Women Entrepreneurs and the Digital Transition

As Policy Chair and Community Councilmember for the WEgate project promoting women-led entrepreneurship in Europe, DLI Director Cheryl Miller also leads the WEgate Thematic Group on Women Entrepreneurs and the Digital Transition (“Digital Transition TG”).

Over the course of 2022, the Digital Transition TG gathered to analyse and synthesise the impact of the digital transition on women entrepreneurs in Europe. Outcomes and recommendations from this work which address Ethics in AI, Gender and Cybersecurity, Tech-readiness of Women-led Startups, and the Gender Gap in Digital Skills, are captured in a policy brief published by the WEgate project on 22 January 2023.

Congratulations for this terrific outcome to WEgate Women Entrepreneurs and the Digital Transition Thematic Group members, Leïla Maidane, Isabel Bustos and Ms. Miller, under project leadership by Emilija Andonova and Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska.

From the WEgate website:

One of the aims of WEgate is to increase the visibility of women entrepreneurs and to promote discussion on important topics for improving the conditions for women’s entrepreneurship development. To address critical areas of interest in women’s entrepreneurship development, dedicated WEgate Thematic groups (TGs) are formed as ad-hoc groups within the WEgate Community. The third WEgate TG is dedicated to Digital transition, analysing the challenges faced by women in the digital arena.

This policy brief summarizes the findings of the WEgate thematic group on women’s entrepreneurship policy. It highlights the key challenges and recommendations for policy-making in four areas: gender mainstreaming, evidence-based policy-making, finance and funding for women entrepreneurs, and stakeholders engagement in policy development. For each policy area, recommendations are being proposed, targeting policymakers at the European and national levels.

Download the WEgate Women Entrepreneurs and the Digital Transition Policy Brief (PDF) here.

DLI Update – Fall 2022

The DLI Board are actively involved in outreach activities with partners and stakeholders around the world that promote ESTEAM* leadership by girls and women. Find out more below about our outreach activities in Autumn 2022, including the G20 Ministerial Conference in Bali where EU Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli and DLI Founder and Head of the EU W20 Delegation, Cheryl Miller, represented the European Union. For upcoming events by DLI and our partners please visit here, and have a look at our calendar.

*Entrepreneurship and Art powered by Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics


24-25 August 2022 –  G20 Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment (Bali, Indonesia): On 24-25 August 2022 in Bali, Indonesia, Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director,  joined the G20 Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment in her capacity as Co-head of the EU Delegation to the G20 Women20 engagement group, and as member of the EU G20 Ministerial Delegation led by European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli.

20 September – Digital Inclusion, Policy and Research Conference (Online): Online on 20 September 2022, Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director,  presented her forthcoming chapter on “Digital Equity and Women’s Economic Agency,” as part of the Gender and Digital Inequalities panel at the Digital Inclusion, Policy and Research Conference (DIPRC) hosted by the University of Liverpool,  Digital Poverty Alliance, and UK Digital Leaders network.

14 October 2022 – W7 Germany Outreach Event “We are Here! We are loud, united against the backlash!” (Berlin, Germany): On 14 October 2022 in Berlin, Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, joined the W7 Germany outreach event “We are Here! We are loud, united against the backlash!” where G7 Gender Equality Ministers met to discuss how to achieve a more equitable G7. Cheryl joined the event as Head of the EU Delegation to the G20 Women20.

17-18 October 2022 – WEgate Summit (Brussels & Online): Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director,  joined the 17 October final event of the European WEgate project, the WEgate Summit, and contributed to a peer-learning session on “Reaching women’s economic independence through entrepreneurship and self-employment.”  On 18 October, Cheryl also joined a European Institutions study mission with representatives of women entrepreneurship organisations from across Europe in order to collectively advocate for a strong European policy framework supporting women entrepreneurs. 


To browse past activities with DLI and our partners, please click here. Be sure to also visit our calendar, sign up for the DLI Newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram in order to keep up with DLI events and activities!

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The second edition of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Women of Diverse Cultural Backgrounds

Athena Entrepreneurship Bootcamp 2.0 follows after a successful first edition being organized in June 2022, aiming to support women migrants or with migrant backgrounds to plan their entrepreneurial activities in Belgium. The focus is on creating a community of women (aspiring) entrepreneurs with diverse cultural backgrounds that face similar challenges in starting or growing their businesses, by connecting them with a network of professionals and organizations that can support to fully valorize their entrepreneurial potential.

The second edition of the bootcamp was organized on the 7th of October 2022, as a more compact one-day training with one session covering the main administrative aspects of doing business in Belgium, and a second one dedicated to working on the business ideas of the participants. The aim was to offer a comprehensive understanding of the business ecosystem in Belgium, while allowing the participants to discuss about the opportunities and challenges they encounter on their entrepreneurial journeys, and brainstorm on adequate solutions together with our performance coach, Ms Cécile Bonneton:

  • Hands-on business coaching: clarify your business goals and work on a concrete plan to advance your activity with the support of our coach, and the different resources and tools offered by the program.

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Women of Diverse Cultural Backgrounds was organized as part of the Athena project – Approaches To valorise the High ENtrepreneuriAl potential of migrant women to contribute to their social and economic integration – a two-year project funded by the AMIF Program. The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the economic and social integration of migrant women in the EU society by improving the services of entrepreneurship support oriented to migrant women and creating a specific entrepreneurial path for them.

The project is implemented by a consortium of six partners and covers five European countries , and will directly benefit a 210 migrant women, it will increase the capacities of more than 35 professionals working in entrepreneurship support roles, it will create synergies with several organisations and it will finally intend to influence policies through a series of policy recommendations. 

Here you can find more about the project: https://athenaproject.net/

Digital Equity for Women’s Economic Agency at STI Forum 2022

Event Registration Link: http://bit.ly/deweaSTI22

Online on 5 May 2022, 18:00-19:15CET / 12:00-1:15pm EST, the G20 Women20 European Union Delegation and Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute are proud to organize “Digital Equity for Women’s Economic Agency,” an official side-event of the UN ECOSOC’s 7th Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum).

Confirmed Speakers:

Format: This event will feature a Roundtable, with interventions by representatives of public and private organizations promoting women’s economic empowerment and closing the gender digital divide for economic recovery and sustainable development. A Question & Answer session open to the public will follow the Roundtable.

Moderator: The event will be moderated by Cheryl Miller, Co-head of the G20 Women20 European Union Delegation, and Director of the Digital Leadership Institute

Registration: This online event is open to the public and registration is required. The event will be organized on Zoom and accessed via the STI Forum Whova platform which is still in process. Those who register via Zoom will also have access. Please stay tuned.

Live Stream: The event will also be streamed live on the DLI YouTube channel.

Concept Note:

Anywhere in the world today, a woman is: 

  • Less likely to be online;
  • More likely to have low or no digital skills;
  • Less likely to be an IT professional; and 
  • Far less likely to launch a tech-driven enterprise.

As a result, women are at greater risk of being excluded by the digital disruption, a phenomenon exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.

COVID has disproportionately impacted women—forcing millions out of the workplace, many permanently. In response, entrepreneurship is and will continue to be a key factor in sustaining financial independence for women and in reigniting the global economy.  In the digital society, such participation is increasingly linked to skills supporting both digitally-enabled and digitally-driven entrepreneurship.

However, a key characteristic of the digital disruption which cuts across geographic locations and socio-economic conditions is that, no matter where they are in the world, women are less likely to be online than men. Of the Earth’s 7.8 billion human population, men make up thirty percent and women twenty-five percent of people who are online, reflecting 195 million fewer women online overall. Despite a surge in online participation during the COVID pandemic, the rate at which women go online continues to lag behind. This ubiquitous and persistent trend represents the digital divide compounded by the gender gap which, without focused effort to address it, risks widening.

In countries where digitalization has a firmer hold, women are still less likely to have digital skills, take up formal computer science or other STEM studies, or hold technical and leadership roles in IT organizations. Globally, the founder of a digitally-driven enterprise is five times more likely to be a man than a woman, and in many places the ratio is closer to ten-to-one.

In addition to the yawing social divide this reality reflects, italso represents a loss for the global economy and for women themselves who are unable to fully realize their potential as economics actors in an increasingly digital society. In 2013, the UN reported that bringing 600 million women and girls online could boost global GDP by up to $18B. A European study of the same period suggests that equal participation of women in the ICT sector would contribute as much as €9B annually to the European economy. Especially as a response to the COVID-induced “She-cession,” action to tackle the gender digital divide presents an opportunity to improve women’s economic agency, address the digital skills and job gap, and promote a pathway toward sustainable development.

Regardless of geography, closing the gender digital divide presents a critical factor in ensuring women’s economic agency, previously and again at present, in order to promote economic development. This focus has the advantages of limiting the risk of further marginalization of women as a result of the digital disruption, addressing the global IT skills gap, filling tech jobs that otherwise go unfilled, and of supporting a woman’s pathway to economic agency in the workforce and as an entrepreneur whose work is digitally-enabled and/or tech-driven.

As such, the greatest single driver of economic recovery exiting the COVID pandemic, and that which will most contribute to sustainable development going forward, will be action supporting digital equity for women’s economic agency at the intersection of promoting women’s economic empowerment (WEE)—with women as entrepreneurs,  equal actors in the workforce, and leaders across the board—and closing the gender digital divide (GDD).

Questions: The event will investigate the following questions: 

  • What is the economic impact of the gender digital divide and the opportunity presented by closing it?
  • What is the state-of-play regarding development action that focuses on tackling the gender digital divide and promoting women’s economic empowerment? 
  • What indicators and best practices may be employed to support digital equity for women’s economic agency as a pathway to economic recovery and sustainable development?

Topics: The event will address the topics of women’s economic empowerment, the gender digital divide, gender equality, woman’s rights, inclusive digital transformation, digital financial inclusion, access to finance, online safety, digital equity, digital skills, STEM skills, women-led entrepreneurship, economic recovery, building forward better from COVID, diversity, equity, inclusion, women in peacekeeping and conflict avoidance, women migrants and refugees, women in leadership, women in innovation, female founders, the SDGs, sustainable development goals, and sustainable development.

Moving Forward Support for Women Entrepreneurs

Women-led entrepreneurship can act as an enabler of women’s economic empowerment and gender equality and contribute to the post-COVID economic recovery.

On this important topic, DLI and it’s partners organized an event entitled Moving Forward Support for Women Entrepreneurs on 16 March 2022 at the Residence Palace in Brussels.  The event was hybrid, which supported people to attend from a large variety of countries and organisations.

Moving Forward Support for Women Entrepreneurs was organised in the framework of the Move It Forward Plus project (MIF+), an Erasmus Plus-funded project to support organizations working in the field of female digital entrepreneurship by equipping them with tools and strategies to better support aspiring women entrepreneurs. The highlighted “tool” was the Move It Forward female digital starters weekend, a two-day program with the aim of bringing together teen and adult women to provide them with the digital skills, resources and access to expertise necessary to inspire them to take up digital entrepreneurship.

During the event, speakers highlighted the importance of supporting women-led entrepreneurship from different angles and perspectives.  

First, Cheryl Miller, DLI Director and Co-head of EU Delegation to the G20 / Women20, dug into why it is important to support women entrepreneurs and what is at stake if this is not done.

The project coordinator, Marina Andrieu from WIDE(Luxembourg) then presented tools and methodologies developed in the MIF + project, and how they can be applied and used for training and mentoring of future digital entrepreneurs. 

Next, MIF+ partner organisations, Fundatia Professional (Romania), Led by Her (France), WIDE (Luxembourg), and CTK Rijeka (Croatia), described the specific actions they implemented to support women entrepreneurs and the impact this had in their local communities.

In the final and most heart-warming part of the event, three future women entrepreneurs who are currently enrolled in the MIF+ mentoring program, shared their experiences of why and how they started on their entrepreneurship journey. In each case, they underscored the fact that getting support to develop their project idea—first during the MIF digital starters weekend and afterwards with guidance from a mentor—is what has permitted them to start making their entrepreneurship dreams come true.