Women ICT Frontier Initiative (WIFI) Program for ASEAN launched in PH-hosted 2017 Women’s Business Confab

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), and the United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communications Technology for Development (APCICT), in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network (AWEN) spearhead the Women ICT Frontier Initiative (WIFI) ASEAN Sub-Regional Launch on August 28, 2017 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City, Philippines.

WIFI is a flagship program of the UN APCICT, a regional institute of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The program aims to promote women’s entrepreneurship in Asia and the Pacific through ICT capacity development.

The event gathered together women business leaders, key stakeholders, civil society groups, and government officials from the ASEAN member states to introduce the WIFI program and the significance of utilizing ICT in support of women-owned businesses. Aside from women entrepreneurs, WIFI also targets government leaders and policy makers to build their capacities in cultivating an enabling environment for ICT-empowered women entrepreneurship.

Following the launch, a Training of Trainers (TOT) will be held in the same venue on August 29-30, 2017. At least 40 delegates coming from the 10 ASEAN Member States: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, are expected to participate in the TOT.

The training will cover the WIFI Program Core Modules: “Women’s Empowerment, the Sustainable Development Goals, and ICT” and “Enabling Role of ICT for Women Entrepreneurs.” It will also feature parallel sessions for two tracks – the Modules for Women Entrepreneurs, which include “Planning a Business Using ICT” and “Managing a Business Using ICT” and the Module for Policy Makers entitled “An Enabling Environment for Women Entrepreneurs.”

Despite the fact that ICTs are globally recognized as an empowering tool for socio-economic development and social participation, gender gaps still persist in ICT adoption. Through regional initiatives like the WIFI Program, which promotes women’s full participation in the economy through ICT-enabled entrepreneurship, ASEAN countries are coming close to their vision of narrowing the gender divide in ICT.

The Inaugural Launch and Training of Trainers on WIFI Program for ASEAN Countries is a side event of the ASEAN 2017 Women’s Business Conference (AWBC). The AWBC is a significant and remarkable initiative led by the Philippines as this is the first time that ASEAN will have a public-private dialogue event highlighting women’s vital participation in the region’s economic activities.