MANILA — An online program for women entrepreneurs of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional bloc was launched Monday afternoon at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
The program, called Women ICT Frontier Initiative (WIFI), seeks to promote women entrepreneurship in Asia and the Pacific through information and communication technology (ICT) capacity development.
The United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (APCICT), in partnership with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Philippine Commission for Women (PCW) and the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network (AWEN), spearheaded the launch.
A flagship project of the UN APCICT, WIFI aims to create socially and economically empowered women through ICT-enabled entrepreneurship.
It pursues accomplishing this objective through strengthening the capacity of current and potential women entrepreneurs in Asia and Pacific in utilizing ICT and enhancing the capability of government leaders and policymakers in cultivating an enabling environment for ICT-empowered women entrepreneurship.
APCICT is a regional institute of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
In his keynote address, DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima called for all sectors of society to push for gender equality and economic empowerment of women.
“The WIFI initiative strengthens the women’s capacity for entrepreneurship through the use and application of ICT which will assist them in business development and management. Digital technology will significantly improve the productivity and efficiency. A significant growth in female employment can be expected,” according to Salalima.
APCICT/ESCAP Director Hyeun Suk Rhee said it has been in the forefront of implementing women development programs in the Asia Pacific region. It likewise recognizes ICT as an enabler of sustainable development in the region.
“The initiative aims to strengthen the capacity of women in utilizing ICT for the growth of business,” she said.
The ASEAN sub-regional launch gathered 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 adopting ICT in support of women-owned businesses.
Following the launch, a Training of Trainers (TOT) will likewise be held at the PICC on August 29 to 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 training.
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 Policymakers entitled “An Enabling Environment for Women Entrepreneurs”.
The modules may be accessed through the WIFI Infobank – an online platform for sharing training resources, case studies and ICT applications to help women enhance their business prospects.
It aims to expand the pool of national resource persons who can deliver WIFI training to women entrepreneurs and policymakers and deliver the training content at community level to potential and current women entrepreneurs.
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 momentous 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.