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Entrepreneurship is a major impetus for innovation, productivity, and long-term economic growth. The digital economy provides fertile ground for entrepreneurs to flourish as digital technologies open up opportunities for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in society and enable more talent, including women entrepreneurs, to participate in economic activities. Access to enabling technologies, markets, and opportunities for greater gender equality, however, does not immediately translate into a supportive business environment for women and their meaningful participation in the economy. To fully harness the benefits of digital technologies for empowering women and unleashing their potential for enhancing productivity and innovation, it is necessary to understand the relationships and synergies among technologies, entrepreneurship, and women’s participation and leadership.
A report from the Global System for Mobile Communications in 2021 estimated that fewer than 40% of women in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa could access mobile internet services. APO research in 2021 on Economic, Gender, and Digital Divides: Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Philippines also indicated that the digital and technology divide remained severe in Asia and that it adversely affected women more than men. Government agencies and the private sector need to provide infrastructure, cultivate skills and competencies, and raise social awareness to foster a conducive environment for women to leverage digital tools, start and run businesses, and provide new momentum for economic growth, innovation, and employment.
Echoing UN SDG 5, Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls, this workshop aims at strengthening APO members’ policy formulation for innovation and productivity enhancement which supports a more inclusive society. It will discuss and provide references on government and organizational strategies for women’s empowerment and leadership in businesses in the digital economy, thereby reaffirming the APO’s support for inclusive growth.
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