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  May 8th, 2024 | Written by

Spearheading Gender Equality in the Digital Economy: UNCTAD Welcomes New Advocates

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The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is ushering in a new era of gender inclusivity in the digital realm with the appointment of four dynamic advocates. This move revitalizes efforts to ensure that women’s voices are at the forefront of shaping policies that drive a digital economy benefiting all.

Read also: Global Trade Magazine Calls for Nominations for Annual Women in Logistics Feature

With the 2024-2025 cohort comprising six distinguished women entrepreneurs, UNCTAD underscores the crucial role of women in fostering innovation, job creation, and economic progress. Originating from diverse regions across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, these entrepreneurs are trailblazers in the tech industry, dedicated to championing women’s empowerment through e-commerce and digital innovation.

Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan, in her announcement on 6th May in Geneva, emphasized the pivotal role of women digital entrepreneurs in propelling economic growth. This cohort includes four new advocates: Vèna Arielle Ahouansou of Benin, Hilda Moraa of Kenya, Angeline Tham of the Philippines, and Ajaita Shah of India. They join two existing advocates, Yasmine Abdel Karim of Egypt, and Ana Maria Sandoval of Colombia, amplifying the voices advocating for gender inclusivity in the digital economy.

Under the umbrella of the “eTrade for Women” initiative, these advocates will play a pivotal role in shaping policies aimed at promoting gender equality in the digital age. The program, a cornerstone of UNCTAD’s e-commerce and digital economy agenda, receives significant support from leading funding contributors such as Australia, Germany, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Let’s meet the new advocates:

– Vèna Arielle Ahouansou, co-founder and CEO of Kea Medicals (Cotonou, Benin), utilizes technology to enhance healthcare services in French-speaking Africa.
– Hilda Moraa, founder and CEO of Pezesha (Nairobi, Kenya), pioneers financial solutions to empower women entrepreneurs across English-speaking Africa.
– Angeline Tham, co-founder and CEO of Angkas (Manila, the Philippines), leverages digital technologies to create a safer and more inclusive transportation sector in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
– Ajaita Shah, co-founder and CEO of Frontier Markets (Jaipur, India), bridges the digital divide for rural women in South Asia through her e-commerce platform.

The advocates’ mandate is to address the persisting gender gap in the digital economy, crucial for sustainable and inclusive development. Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of technology and logistics at UNCTAD, highlights their role in calling attention to the challenges women face in accessing finance, technology, and markets, shaping policies for gender equality in the digital age.

Women’s leadership in the digital economy takes center stage at the 7th meeting of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-commerce and the Digital Economy in Geneva. Ana Maria Sandoval, advocate for Latin America and the Caribbean, stresses the importance of enabling women in developing countries to fully participate in and benefit from the digital boom.

As these advocates step into their roles, they symbolize a commitment to unlocking the full potential of women entrepreneurs in driving inclusive digital growth. Through their leadership and advocacy, UNCTAD is paving the way for a more equitable and prosperous digital future.