DLI, EU Women20 promote Digital Equity for SDGs

On 5 May 2022 online, the Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute and EU Women20 Delegation to the G20 jointly organized an official side-event of the UN Science, Technology and Innovation Forum on the SDGs (“STI Forum”), on the topic of “Digital Equity for Women’s Economic Agency.” The event addressed the intersecting priorities of closing the gender digital divide and promoting women’s financial independence as economic actors—namely as entrepreneurs, experts and leaders in critical STEM sectors, especially Technology—as an explicit objective of international development policy and as the surest path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Key recommendations gleaned from the gathering include the following:

  1. Prioritize development funding and programs with an explicit focus on closing the digital gender divide — i.e. through digital skills programs and actions to increase access to and use of technology and infrastructure, for girl and women beneficiaries;
  2. Prioritize development funding and programs with an explicit focus on increasing women’s economic agency through technology, e.g. by supporting women as entrepreneurs in tech-driven and tech-enabled startup, and through paid apprenticeship programs with job placement for women in emerging technology fields such as AI, cybersecurity, big data, machine learning, etc.;
  3. Increase capacity-building for the fore-mentioned activities by supporting best practice-sharing, networking building and by promoting opportunities to replicate and scale successful regional programs tackling “digital equity and women’s economic agency” in all directions and across global geographies (North-South, South-North, North-North, South-South);
  4. Increase structural support and promote a healthy ecosystem that supports women as independent economic actors by addressing underlying inequities women face as entrepreneurs and as leaders in digital fields, including by: i) setting ambitious gender-specific development program goals for reach, participation and program success; ii) collecting and sharing gender- and sex-disaggregated program data; iii) ear-marking development funds with the specific mission to close the gender digital gap for women’s economic empowerment;
  5. Take concrete action to ensure women’s equal access to and use of: i) Digital/ICT training programs and related resources, including acceleration, incubation and (IT) leadership-training programs; ii) entrepreneurship finance and investment, especially venture capital, and other resources (mentorship, coaching, financial literacy); and iii) distribution channels and supply chains, including for international trade and e-commerce, with specific targets for women’s equal participation in public sector procurement;
  6. Build and deploy programs that specifically focus on increasing technology leadership–as entrepreneurs, experts and leaders–by mature women, women in transition, migrant women and women living in rural areas.

Panel interventions reflected a broad and ambitious spectrum of key voices promoting Digital Equity and Women’s Economic Agency from around the world, including:

The Digital Equity event was streamed live on the STI Forum platform and DLI YouTube channel, and joined remotely by virtual participants. It took the form of a panel discussion moderated by Cheryl Miller, DLI Director and Co-head of EU G20 Women20 Delegation, with support from Loredana Bucseneanu, DLI Development Director, and key G20 Women20 partners including: Katharina Miller, Co-head of EU Delegation; Tamara Dancheva, EU Delegate; and Virginia Littlejohn, Co-head of US Delegation. 

A video of the event is available here (Passcode: FaPH3Yf), and inquiries about this and future events may be directed to DLI


The recent withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan after twenty years of occupation created a power vacuum and resurgence of domestic forces that has triggered a humanitarian crisis.  The clamping down on human rights and freedoms, especially impacting girls and women, is forcing flight of hundreds of thousands of Afghan nationals to other parts of the globe. Some of the most high profile evacuations have been of the Afghan Girls Robotics and Girls Soccer teams. There are thousands of harrowing evacuation stories, not all of which have been successful, and countless more at-risk girls and women are still living in uncertainty in Afghanistan. 

In her role as Head of EU Delegation to the G20 Women20 stakeholder interest group, Cheryl Miller, DLI Director, played an instrumental role in delivering a Declaration of Support for Afghan Women and Girls to G20 leaders, including EC President von der Leyen and US President Biden, ahead of a 24 August urgent G7 meeting on Afghanistan. President von der Leyen’s remarks there focused on the plight of Afghan girls and women: “We need to help mostly those who are at immediate risk. And those are women, girls and children, who make up the vast majority of internally displaced people – 80% of the internally displaced people in Afghanistan are women and girls.”

As Afghan refugees attempt to make their way to other countries, they will need support – for evacuating from Afghanistan, arriving to a new location, and in assimilating long-term as economic, political and social actors in their adopted homes. An initiative called Women4Afghanistan was launched by Anne Ravanona and Katharina Miller, EU delegates to the G20/W20, in order to rally support for Afghan girls and women on this path.  More information on how to contribute to this critical work may be found here: 


As Afghan refugees arrive and begin the process of integrating into their new home communities, it will be up to programs like AMIF and the ATHENA project to specifically support Afghan women and their sister refugees from around the world, by delivering on its remit to promote entrepreneurship by women migrants. DLI and the ATHENA partners look forward to the opportunity to support the women and girls of Afghanistan, and women migrants from all over the world, in integrating and achieving financial independence for these most vulnerable.