EghtesadOnline: During a conference held in Tehran, representatives from Indonesia and Russia along with Iran's ICT Ministry, while bringing gender justice to the fore, underscored their commitment to utilize women's potential as an indispensable economic and scientific force to promote sustainable development.
Iran's ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi hosted the conference titled "Women Empowerment Through ICT," participated by Indonesia's Minister of Female Empowerment and Child Protection Yohana Susana Yembise and Russia's former minister of communications and mass media Nikolay Nikiforov.
Part of the meeting was dedicated to outlining women's role in the ICT sector's growth. According to Azari-Jahromi, more than 23% of Iranian mobile application developers are women, with the figure on a steady rise.
During the Sunday meeting revolving around empowerment of women through information and communication technology, Azari-Jahromi applied a gender perspective to ICT statistics, saying that 45% of mobile phone users and 48% of Internet users are women in Iran, according to Financial Tribune.
The minister noted that 10 of the senior managers with the ICT Ministry are women, and they have proven creative in management.
Highlighting the role women play in society, Azari-Jahromi said, "We cannot and must not ignore the role of 50% of the population in society."
Stressing the importance of closing the yawning gender gap in today's society, the minister said, "The society is in dire need of gender justice, and dividing the people into men and women no longer bears any meaning."
He added, "It is our shared responsibility to make every endeavor for gender justice through careful planning and hard work."
Pointing to technology's potential to turn every person into a medium of communication, the young minister said, "Many require education especially in less developed countries, and their presence on social media platforms can be used as a means to address social issues."
Recent years have seen a renewed global interest in efforts to raise awareness about women's role in society as well as education on how to handle abuse and violence.
Speaking against those who presume women's active presence in society poses a threat to the male population's chances for employment, Azari-Jahromi said, "Women's empowerment must be considered as a solution, and we must acknowledge the fact that what benefits women, by extension benefits the institution of the family."
Azari-Jahromi added that with more villages covered by high-speed Internet, the ICT Ministry is trying to establish centers for the empowerment of women in the ICT sector in rural areas.
>Digital Gender Gap
Iranian Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Massoumeh Ebtekar was also present at the gathering as a representative of women in the Cabinet.
Pointing to the country's Sixth Development Plan (2016-2021), she told the attendees that some sections of the plan are focused on gender justice.
She added, "Due to the ICT Ministry's measures in this regard, we are currently witnessing a 4% drop in the digital gender gap."
Ebtekar hopes the downward trend will be sustained and lead to the closing of the gender gap.
The vice president for women and family affairs does not believe government action alone can redress discrimination against women, and invited the public and the private sector to mobilize efforts to achieve the end.
The government plans for the empowerment of women include a scheme which encourages family members to communicate with one another to face everyday challenges.
Moreover, the administration will hold educational panels that can teach families the proper use of information technology and the Internet.