UNESCO to collaborate with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on digital inclusion and gender mainstreaming strategy

An event was held by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in Islamabad to roll-out various initiatives being taken to enhance accessibility, affordability and digital skills for women and girls for accelerating gender inclusion in Information Communication and Technologies (ICTs) in the country.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is a government body with the aim to regulate, maintain and establish telecommunication systems and services throughout the country. Falling under the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication its vision is to promote high quality ICT services among all citizens across Pakistan.

According to the Global Mobile Communication Systems (GSMA) there is a significant gender gap in South Asian countries. Similarly, Pakistan has some of the widest mobile gender gaps where 38 percent of Pakistani women are less likely than men to own a mobile phone and 49 percent are less likely to use mobile internet. Nevertheless, the PTA has successfully engaged highly relevant stakeholders from private sector as well as international organizations to spearhead various initiatives that can help reduce the digital gender gap.  

Since last year the PTA has been actively involved in the Multi-Advisory Board for UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators Assessment conducted in the country. Based on the findings and feedback, UNESCO and PTA held bilateral meetings to develop further synergies with special attention to gender mainstreaming and use of ICTs.    

A need was felt to develop a framework at the policy level that can help guide the PTA to integrate the gender mainstreaming at an institutional level. As a result of which UNESCO decided to support the formulation of the digital inclusion and gender mainstreaming strategy to promote access to information through ICTs in Pakistan. The strategy will help support duty bearers through informed policy advice and strategies to improve institutional frameworks on promoting access to information online and offline and mainstreaming and gender responsive approach. 

During her address at the event, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar mentioned the need to leverage digital technologies to leverage women empowerment. Representatives from GSMA, ITU and cellular and digital services providers reiterated their commitment to promote digital platforms as a tool to reduce inequalities and promote digital literacy among women and girls. In a video message recorded by the (Office in Charge) UNESCO Islamabad Office, Patricia McPhillips, commended the PTA for garnering the support of diverse stakeholders in addressing the issues of the digital realm. She also highlighted that the strategy would help support the vision for Digital Pakistan with an opportunity to draw from UN Secretary General’s roadmap for Digital Cooperation.