Jakarta, 26 July 2022. Group of Twenty (G20) EMPOWER of the Indonesian Presidency held the third Plenary Meeting and Side Event in Jakarta, Tuesday, (26/07). Carrying three main agendas, this meeting also marks the closing of the G20 EMPOWER series of the Indonesian Presidency which has been going on since last December 2021. The third meeting which was held in a hybrid manner was attended by the Minister of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA), Bintang Puspayoga, Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia (Kemendikbudristek), Nadiem Makarim, Secretary General of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics, Mira Tayyiba, Sherpa, working group of G20, G20 engagement group that raises women's issues, G20 EMPOWER advocates from G20 member countries, international organizations, and experts.
In her remarks, the Indonesian Minister of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA), Bintang Puspayoga stated that to maximize the digital economy, women need to increase the use of technology and digital applications for every opportunity that exists. Each technology has the potential to increase productivity, efficiency, and ultimately increase competitiveness. However, in reality, women's participation in the digital economy is still low due to a lack of digital skills and literacy. It must be acknowledged that this problem stems from the fact that there is a gender bias that has an impact on girls' lack of motivation in making science and technology their main choice of education so that girls become less interested in digital technology.”
Furthermore, Bintang explained, “Currently, the country is faced with the need to increase women's representative in the digital resilience sector. Therefore, digital skills are needed so that women can face the challenges of digital jobs in the future. We must work together to promote women's leadership in the digital sector. The first way is to increase the number of female workers, especially in the STEM field. Second, create a women-friendly work environment. Third, encourage gender equality in all fields of development.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia, Nadiem Makarim in his speech said, “No one, including women, can realize their potential when they are under pressure such as environmental conditions and stigma. Going to college is a stepping stone for many women. In addition, the most important thing is the creation of a safe and conducive environment for learning, especially for women. Therefore, we at the Ministry have a policy and focus on combating sexual or gender-based violence in the university environment.”
Safe from various threats in the path of education is not enough. One of the goals of the policies and regulations made by the Ministry of Education and Culture is to enable more women to enter the workforce with various skills. In addition, all sectors of the organization need to increase inclusivity to avoid the emergence of intolerance.
“Kemendikbudristek is developing various programs to support women's empowerment. One of them is through collaboration between the business sector and universities by involving women. But policies alone are not enough. We must strive for women to have greater access to resources, to have agencies to make decisions, and to obtain protection from educators and parents," Nadiem further explained.
Secretary General of the Indonesian Ministry of Communications and Informatics, Mira Tayyiba added that it is our collective responsibility to address gender bias and inequality and ensure equal access for women in the labor market and business. Through the DEWG (Digital Economy Working Group) forum as one of the G20 alliances of the Indonesian Presidency, we are trying to simplify digital issues into three main priorities. First, connectivity and post-Covid-19 recovery. Second, digital literacy and skills. Third, setting the flow of use and cross-border of data flow.
“Related to the issue of gender inequality itself, we identified that the first and second issues of the DEWG focus have an important linkage. This concept highlights the importance of resilient connectivity based on the availability and affordability of access, infrastructure readiness, and the responsibility and use of digital connectivity to support inclusive digital services. We are focused on bridging the digital gender gap to ensure women can have equal opportunities in this digital era.”
The three main agendas of this third side event meeting are, first, to open an understanding of the challenges women face in achieving digital readiness. Second, open a discussion forum between delegates regarding real plans and actions to encourage women's digital skills. Third, formulate recommendations that can be followed up by the private sector, government, and non-governmental organizations to encourage digital readiness in women.
Expert Staff/Acting Deputy Minister for Community Participation, Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection (KPPPA), Indra Gunawan, stated that the potential of women in the world of work and the labor market was increasingly disturbed and challenged by Covid-19. Prior to the pandemic, barriers to women's position in the labor market were proficiency in new technologies, engaging in business cycles, and being recognized in male-dominated or STEM industries. These issues remain relevant during Covid-19, but with additional problems including the double burden of unpaid care work and the physical dimensions of work affecting the way women enter the sector.
Furthermore, Indra Gunawan explained, “The Indonesian government is committed to promoting gender mainstreaming in all aspects of development at all levels of society. Development is directed at improving the quality of life and the role of women in various fields, especially in the field of STEM and digital capabilities, reducing the number of acts of violence and exploitation, and eliminating discrimination against women, including for women in the world of work. Therefore, to achieve the common goal in achieving gender equality, we must overcome social constructions that have developed in society such as stigmatization and stereotypes, which create unequal power between men and women in certain aspects of society. Therefore, empowering women to achieve gender equality is very important.”
Chair of G20 EMPOWER, Yessie D Yosetya in her speech said that as one of the alliances or working groups of the G20 for the empowerment and representation of women's economic progress, G20 EMPOWER aims to accelerate the leadership and empowerment of women in the private sector. The discussion this time focused on promoting points related to how to build and improve women's digital resilience and skills in the public, especially in the work environment to become the main recommendation at the MCWE (Ministerial Conference for Women's Empowerment) Summit in August in Bali.
"Later on, in front of the Ministers for Women's Empowerment from all G20 member countries, we want to show the ongoing commitment of G20 EMPOWER in bringing recommendations that can be followed up as part of the G20 working group of the Indonesian Presidency," explained Yessie further.
The progress of women in digital sector employment in the future is hampered by two main challenges, related to the education and environment, respectively. Regarding education, namely the lack of women representative in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), lack of digital skills, and limited access to mentors and incubators. Meanwhile, challenges related to the environment, in the form of inadequate digital infrastructure, lack of concrete examples, lack of funding sources to bring in digital equipment, and limited access to enter the digital work environment.
"The background for the emergence of these challenges are social prejudices and biases, lack of self-confidence, and unequal responsibilities. Therefore, we believe that support from the private sector, government and other stakeholders is needed to help women achieve digital readiness, "explained Jessie.
The Co-Chair of G20 EMPOWER, Rinawati Prihatiningsih explained, this third side event raised themes related to the future of women workers, including acceleration, opportunities, to what challenges women face in the world of work and business. This third meeting also aims to provide views on how the private sector and government can improve their position to support, accelerate, and minimize challenges related to the position of women in the world of work, especially post-Covid.
There are two main topics discussed in this side event, namely how to minimize the gender gap in digital use, and about empower women in the future economy. At the meeting with a discussion session on the theme of how to minimize the gender gap in digital use, summarized by the lessons learned and best practices on how the private sector and government can support minimizing the digital gender gap in the workplace and business.
"This session also explores the programs, policies, and interventions of G20 member countries that support the implementation of access to digital technology related to policies and programs in skills improvement that recognizes the relevance of G20 EMPOWER related to priority issues that will be implemented in the future," continued Rina.
Next in the session on the topic of empowering women in the future economy, the delegates highlighted good practices and lessons learned from the government and the private sector on the importance of empowering women for economic readiness, especially post-pandemic. In addition, the delegates also explored approaches, policies, programs, and recommendations from all G20 member countries in implementing real approaches and actions to empower women to be ready to face challenges in the future.
As a reference, data from the Boston Consulting Group notes that only 25% of the female workforce has a career in the STEM field. Then, only 9% of women fill STEM executive leadership positions globally. In addition, research from the World Wide Web Foundation found that low- and middle-income countries have lost USD 1 trillion in Gross Domestic Product due to the gender gap in the use of technology including the internet.
At this year's Presidency, G20 EMPOWER Indonesia focused on three main priorities, namely, first, increasing corporate accountability in achieving Key Performance Indicators to improve the role of women. Second, encouraging the role of women in SMEs as an economic driver. Third, building and improving women's digital resilience and skills.
Covid-19 has put a double burden on women workers. The backwardness of women in industries that prioritize digital technology is further exacerbated by the lack of wages and women's opportunities for careers in the STEM industry. Looking further at this condition, the future of women workers becomes a challenge in itself. Therefore, programs and policies are needed that are able to support the acceleration of women's empowerment in the work environment. This program also needs support from the government, the private sector, and other parties to stimulate greater opportunities for existing policies.