Caroline Rubin, Julia Hakspiel and Bobbi Gray from the WEE Working Group spoke with Alexa Roscoe, Disruptive Technology Lead at IFC’s Gender and Economic Inclusion Group, and Lana Graf, Principal Industry Specialist for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at IFC about ways in which digital technologies can support the women’s economic empowerment.
How do digital technologies remove barriers for women’s participation in the economy?
Alexa: Disruptive technologies can remove barriers for women’s economic participation—such as helping women access new or better forms of work or ensuring women entrepreneurs can access and compete with the same tools as men. As we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy is moving online so these tools are increasingly essential to ensure women can thrive as the founders, leaders, or employees of future businesses.
And unfortunately, this comes with a caveat — that women need to be able to access technology on an equal basis with men, which is by no means guaranteed. The connectivity gap is well documented — globally men are 20% more likely to be online and 50% more likely in least developed countries. The World Bank’s Findex data shows that women’s financial inclusion has plateaued even though Fintech continues to thrive, so there is definitely an access challenge there….