IGF 2023 Lightning Talk #38 Place and role of women in cyberspace

Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (04:50 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (05:20 UTC)
SC – Room H

Digital Divides & Inclusion
Gender Digital Divide

Digital Divides & Inclusion

The Ministry of Digital Affairs (Poland)
Katarzyna Bis-Płaza - Director of Projects and Strategy Department, (speaker), The Ministry of Digital Affairs (Poland) Mariusz Przybyszewski - Head of State Information Architecture Unit, (moderator, rapporteur), The Ministry of Digital Affairs (Poland)


Katarzyna Bis-Płaza - Director of Projects and Strategy Department (speaker), Mariusz Przybyszewski - Head of State Information Architecture Unit, The Ministry of Digital Affairs (Poland)

Onsite Moderator

Mariusz Przybyszewski

Online Moderator

Mariusz Przybyszewski


Mariusz Przybyszewski


5. Gender Equality
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
10. Reduced Inequalities

Targets: The presented topic links with the following UN Sustainable Development Goals: 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. 5.1. End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. 5.B. Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women. 5.C. Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels. 8. Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all. 8.5. By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. 8.8. Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment. 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries. 10.2. By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status. 10.3. Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard.


Onsite and online presentation with participants interactions.

Duration (minutes)

The main focus of the speech is to highlight the seriousness of the problem of digital exclusion, and in particular the digital exclusion of women. The speakers want to emphasize what digital exclusion is and how this exclusion affects the position of women in this sphere of social and professional life. As part of the deliberations, an attempt was made to identify the causes of such disproportion in access to cyberspace and its effects (e.g. pay gap, lack of devices connected with mentioned pay gap, privacy and security concerns). It then concentrated on identifying areas where countries should work to close the gender gap in access to IT. Among other things, the need to take legislative action, implement social campaigns involving both public and private entities in this common goal was indicated. In addition, it was pointed out how much impact the new political and economic conditions resulting from the refugee crisis related to Russia's aggression against Ukraine may have on the change in the structure and proportion of employment in the IT industry. background paper https://www.gov.pl/attachment/0790c223-6fdd-4b9f-a225-8426ab074b63

All participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and comment on presentation. Participants comments will be moderated by onsite and online moderator. Online tools for collecting expressed opinions are planned to be used in real time.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)
Woman/girls need to be supported from very early stages of their life to go forward to the education and jobs in IT sector. This kind of support should be given both by state and by companies. Professionalism, knowledge, experience have no gender. The society will profit if women will join on the equal rights and level the cyberspace in every aspect of it.
Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions


Lightning Talk #38: Place and role of women in cyberspace

During the lightening talk the subject was presented according to background paper. Key issues from the presentations were barriers which limit women's use of the internet

  • Pay gap

Given the global gender pay gap, women tend to have lower incomes compared to men, making it harder for them to allocate a significant portion of their earnings to purchasing smartphones or paying for internet access.

  • Accessibility

The cost of an internet connection is a significant barrier for women in accessing the internet. In many low- and middle-income nations, the cost of internet services remains relatively high compared to average incomes. As a result, women may struggle to afford internet services, hindering their ability to go online and participate in the digital world.

  • Lack of devices:

Women globally possess fewer devices, such as smartphones, compared to men. One contributing factor is the higher cost of these devices, which can make them less affordable for women in low- and middle-income countries. Research indicates that the cheapest new smartphones are still relatively costly for many individuals, with an average price of $104 per unit. The disparity in device ownership has implications for internet usage patterns. For example, a smaller percentage of female mobile phone owners in these regions have access to smartphones compared to basic calling phones. This technological barrier restricts the range of activities women can engage in while online, limiting their ability to fully participate in cyberspace.

  • Privacy and security:

Women tend to be more concerned about online security and privacy compared to men. In many countries, women express greater apprehension regarding the protection of their personal data. These concerns may be rooted in cultural factors, gender-based violence, or experiences of online harassment and stalking. As a result, women may be more cautious about sharing personal information and engaging in certain online activities, which can impede their ability to freely navigate cyberspace and fully utilize its resources.

  • Education and skills:

Disparities in educational attainment contribute to keeping women offline. Unfortunately, a gender education gap persists globally, with adult men having higher rates of educational attainment than adult women. This disparity extends into the digital age, as women may have less exposure to digital skills training within traditional educational settings. The lack of educational opportunities and digital skills training hampers women's ability to navigate and utilize online platforms effectively, creating a digital divide.

In the second part of the presentation some polish solutions and project which counteract to those gaps ware presented.

  • Campaign Girls for polytechnics! and Girls to Strict! is a pioneering and at the same time the largest project promoting technical, engineering and science courses (STEM) among young women in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. The most important goal of these programs is to break stereotypes in thinking and encourage secondary school students to take up technical and science studies.  
  • NEW YOU in IT - Professionalism has no gender - The first edition of this four-month program conducted by the Central Information Technology Center (associated with the Ministry of Digitial Affairs) was aimed at providing free education to participants and motivating women who want to join the IT industry.
  • #CyberStrong media campaign, which tells about women who have achieved success in the IT industry and in managing the state's cybersphere.
  • Poland has also introduced new regulations to the Labor Code, guaranteeing parents and caretakers additional holidays and leaves, access to flexible forms of employment, including home-office, as well as extra protection from dismissal.
  • Close to 300 Ukrainian women who arrived in Poland as a result of the war have expressed their interest in participating in HERoes in IT, a free career transition program that educates them in the field of manual testing. The record number of applications confirms that Ukrainian women are eager to develop their digital skills, even considering a complete career change.

After the presentation some comments were raised by participants. Comments were very positive. Moreover some of participants shared the information about some similar programs in their countries.