Progress towards gender equality in Europe is moving slowly. The EU’s Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 calls for a Europe where women and men, girls and boys, are equal, where diversity is a recognized asset to the economy and society, and where women have equal opportunities to participate and thrive in society. The EU has committed to improving the structural inequality between men and women and empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of women and girls. However, a conclusive strategy for eliminating gender inequality and reshaping institutionalized stereotypes and discriminatory practices has yet to emerge.
The information society presents new possibilities for generating and distributing wealth and knowledge. Active participation of women in the information society is a matter of justice and equality and improves EU competitiveness. Digital inclusion provides new pathways and novel solutions for ensuring that women and girls can participate in the entire sphere of economic, social, political and cultural life.
The participation of women and girls in research and innovation is crucial for promoting digital inclusion and addressing the complex social and economic challenges facing Europe. However, innovations are often disproportionately driven by and benefit men.
EQUALS-EU aims to promote gender equity in social innovation through capacity building and creating smart, sustainable and inclusive social innovation ecosystems in local communities and cities in Europe and the Global North and South.
The EQUALS Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age was launched in 2016 by the International Telecommunication Union and four founding partners – GSMA, the International Trade Centre, the United Nations University and UN Women. Today it boasts nearly 100 partners (governmental and international institutions, civil society organisations, academic institutions and community groups) from around the globe dedicated to closing the gender digital divide.
EQUALS Global Partnership works to reverse the increasing digital gender divide and close the gap by 2030 (supporting UN Sustainable Development Goal 5) by empowering women through their use of information and communication technologies. An action plan of data gathering, knowledge sharing and advocacy strengthening drives the EQUALS network partnership. To achieve the goals EQUALS and its partners focus on four core issues:
- ACCESS (improve women and girls’ digital technology access, connectivity and security)
- SKILLS (support development of science, technology, engineering and math skills of women and girls)
- LEADERSHIP (promote women in decision-making roles within the ICT field)
- RESEARCH (partners share research to enable data-driven and evidence-based action in support of digital gender equality)