The G7 Digital and Tech Ministers Commit to Reducing the Gender Digital Divide

NEWS 05.08.2023

On 28 April, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Digital Transformation Summit was held in Ikaho Onsen, Gunma Prefecture; and on 29-30 April the G7 Digital and Tech Ministers’ Meeting was held in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture. At the WEF Digital Transformation Summit, W7 Advisor and Japan Steering Committee Member, Megumi Ishimoto, presented highlights from the W7 Digital Statement, “Women Transforming the Digital World Safer and Inclusive with Prosperity for All”, and spoke about the risks and benefits of emerging technologies for rural women in Japan. Addressing the Digital and Tech Ministers of the G7, chaired by Taro Kono, Minister for Digital Transformation, Takeaki Matsumoto, Minister for International Affairs and Communications, and Yasutoshi Nishimura, Minister of Economy, W7 Advisor, Lauren Power, advocated for human rights and gender equality in line with the “W7 Japan Communique: Feminist Demands for Building an Equal, Just and Peaceful Future” and W7 Digital Statement.

Joining the G7 Digital and Tech Ministers for discussion were representatives from the guest countries of Republic of India, Republic of Indonesia, and Ukraine, and the international organizations Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations, and World Bank Group. Representatives from the G7 Japan Official Engagement Groups also presented statements, including Nobuhiro Endo of the Business7 (B7), Shoko Uchida of the Civil7 (C7), Tetsushi Sonobe of the Think7 (T7), Lauren Power of the Women7 (W7), and Wakana Asano of the Youth7 (Y7). While the B7, C7, T7, W7, and Y7 Communiques highlighted aspects of emerging technologies and AI relative to their respective communities, the W7 was the only Engagement Group to issue an additional dedicated Digital Statement.

Reinforcing the five primary demands and principle of intersectionality set forth in the W7 Communique, Lauren Power, representing W7, anchored demands in the W7 Digital Statement.

“We know that digital technology can be an unprecedented empowering force if it is designed to be inclusive and regulated for impact and safety,” said Power. “Unfortunately, women and girls in all their diversity are at particular risk of being excluded from the benefits of digital work, technology, and AI. Regulation, coordinated intervention, and a gender-responsive and intersectional approach to technology urgently need to be adopted. The benefits of women’s inclusion and leadership in digital economies will not be realized unless G7 leaders commit to making the digital world safer, more inclusive, and more equitable.”

On behalf of W7, Power called for commitments from the G7 Digital and Tech Ministers in the following five categories:

  1. Build and Implement Responsive Regulatory Frameworks on AI and Emerging Technologies
  2. Address Technology-facilitated Gender-based Violence (tfGBV)
  3. Strengthen Digital and STEAM-related Education for Girls and Women
  4. Prepare Women for Digital Transformation Through Digital Access, Literacy, Skilling, & Reskilling
  5. Create Tech That Meets the Needs of Women and Girls

Following the presentations by the G7 Engagement Groups, most questions and comments centered on supporting gender, with W7’s Power providing additional interventions.

W7 was, therefore, pleased to see many of W7’s demands reflected in the Ministerial Declaration of the G7 Digital and Tech Ministers’ Meeting released 30 April 2023, with paragraphs 7, 29, 45, and 46 being particularly in alignment.

“7. […] The benefits of emerging technologies can contribute to reducing digital divides including the gender digital divide. We confirm our commitment to strengthen our cooperation with like-minded partners including developing and emerging countries with a view to reducing digital divides including the gender divide, such as by supporting efforts on digital skills and digital connectivity. We recognize that people of all ages and backgrounds need basic digital skills, to enable them to navigate an increasingly digitally connected world and to close digital divides, in cooperation with the G20 Digital Economy Working Group.”

“29. We are committed to work together with all stakeholders to contribute to the UN Global Digital Compact (GDC), with a view to promoting a human rights based, and gender responsive approach, and with reference to existing outcome documents such as the Agreed Conclusions of the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women on gender equality in innovation and technology, and international human rights law commitments, including in relation to gender equality. We will encourage the GDC to
reinforce build on and contribute to the success of the IGF and WSIS process. Based on our commitment to the multistakeholder approach, we also resolve to work together to prepare for the coming discussions during the WSIS+20 review process in 2025, including empowering multistakeholder participation and engagement.”

“45. We reaffirm that AI policies and regulations should be human centric and based on democratic values, including protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the protection of privacy and personal data. We also reassert that AI policies and regulations should be risk-based and forward-looking to preserve an open and enabling environment for AI development and deployment that maximizes the benefits of the technology for people and the planet while mitigating its risks.”

“46. We recognize that AI development is progressing rapidly and has the potential for significant impacts on society. Being mindful of such potential impact of AI on our societies, we also recognize that AI policies and regulations should be adapted to the context of application in a way that is sensitive to technical and institutional characteristics as well as societal and cultural implications, including geographic, sectoral, and ethical aspects.”

28 April 2023
World Economic Forum Digital Transformation Summit, Ikaho Onsen, Gunma Prefecture, Japan
Speakers photo, including ‘Avataro’ (far right) and Megumi Ishimoto, W7 Japan Advisor (far left)

29 April 2023
G7 Digital and Tech Ministers’ Meeting, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture, Japan
(from left to right) Megumi Ishimoto, W7 Japan Advisor; Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition; Lauren Power, W7 Japan Advisor.

29 April 2023
G7 Digital and Tech Ministers’ Meeting, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture, Japan
Lauren Power, W7 Japan Advisor

29 April 2023
G7 Digital and Tech Ministers’ Meeting, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture, Japan

29 April 2023
G7 Digital and Tech Ministers’ Meeting, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture, Japan
Megumi Ishimoto (left) and Lauren Power (right), W7 Japan Advisors