Launching the Principles for Digital Inclusion in the Green Economy

OTTAWA, Canada, February 12, 2024 — Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) is thrilled to unveil a significant milestone resulting from the collaborative efforts of the EDISON Alliance Sprint Group. In the span of seven months, from May to November 2023, DOT, alongside esteemed partners like NetHope, Dubai Cares, Goodwall, The Digital School, UNICEF, and other members, engaged in a transformative journey aimed at advancing digital inclusion, particularly for young women in the burgeoning green economy. The culmination of this endeavour is the launch of the Principles for Digital Inclusion in the Green Economy, a groundbreaking initiative that aims to amplify the role of women and girls in shaping a sustainable future.

“The sprint group symbolizes the crucial collaboration of organizations and institutions joining forces with a common purpose — addressing the climate crisis through a collective ecosystem committed to promoting gender equality and meaningful inclusion. It issues a compelling call to action for the entire ecosystem to recognize the amplified impact of gender inequality amidst the climate crisis. It underscores the imperative to inclusively engage the most marginalized, especially women and girls, ensuring that solutions to the climate crisis are not only relevant but impactful.” 

– Elizabeth Mengesha and Meaghan Anderson, Co-Chairs of the Topic Sprint Group

Background:

The Sprint Group, embedded within the World Economic Forum’s EDISON Alliance, embarked on a mission to explore the intersections of climate change, digital technology, skills development, and gender equity. This collaborative effort resulted in the formulation of five key principles designed to catalyze positive change and foster increased participation and digital inclusion in the green economy.

Unveiling the Principles for Digital Inclusion in the Green Economy:

Principle 1: Think Digital, Act Local

The first principle stresses the need to ground digital inclusion initiatives in local realities, fostering community-driven empowerment. By strengthening local agency, individuals and communities can make decisions that directly impact their lives and environment, promoting autonomy and capacity. Recognizing and nurturing the expertise of women and their communities is vital for the success of green economy initiatives. Integrating climate considerations from the project’s inception not only aligns with these principles but also creates meaningful opportunities for young women to actively engage in climate action through digital inclusion projects.

Principle 2: Leave No One Behind

The second principle adopts an intersectional approach, recognizing that the marginalization of young women is multifaceted. Addressing systemic challenges such as poverty and unpaid care work, an “ecosystem” approach ensures a comprehensive strategy to reach them. By considering various social factors, we pave the way for inclusive green spaces that transcend traditional boundaries, fostering opportunities and dismantling barriers.

Principle 3: Representation Matters and Mentorship Pays Off

Empowering women in the green economy goes beyond skills; it requires creating a sense of belonging. The third principle emphasizes the importance of mentorship, establishing a robust support system that extends beyond technical guidance. By showcasing role models and fostering representation in climate leadership roles, we instill confidence, inspiring young women to envision themselves as integral contributors to these fields.

Principle 4: Don’t Forget Soft Skills

While technical skills are crucial, the fourth principle recognizes the significance of “soft” skills. Building cognitive and socio-emotional skills such as confidence, growth mindset, and collaboration is essential for the holistic development of women in green spaces. This approach ensures that women not only acquire technical skills but also possess the psychological resources to thrive in transformative spaces.

Principle 5: Create Safe Spaces

The final principle advocates for the establishment of women-only spaces, providing a platform for collaboration, support, and open dialogue. These safe spaces aim to cultivate an environment where young women feel empowered to express themselves without reservation. Emphasizing safer spaces in learning environments, workplaces, and community networks is crucial to address pervasive safety concerns and gender-based violence.

“In the pursuit of transformative change, the EDISON Alliance exemplifies the power of collaborative efforts and multi-stakeholder partnerships. As we navigate the path forward, DOT commits to embodying these principles, working hand-in-hand with diverse stakeholders to enact tangible actions that propel digital inclusion and empower the next generation. Our dedication aligns with the Alliance’s vision, to ensure equitable access to the digital economy to bridge the digital divide. Multi-stakeholder endorsement and uptake of the principles has the power to steer a future where collective efforts reshape systems for the better – achieving impact at scale”.

– Nada Ghaoui, Vice President Marketing and Development

In embracing these principles, we pave the way for a future where digital inclusion seamlessly aligns with a just transition to a thriving green economy. Within this vision, the green economy becomes a space where every young woman is afforded the chance to contribute, innovate, and flourish. Through the conscientious application of these principles, our aim is not only to bridge existing access gaps but to initiate a ripple effect of empowerment that extends well beyond individual interventions. We aspire to leave a lasting mark on the landscape of digital inclusion in the green economy across the Global South. Stepping into this new era guided by the Principles for Digital Inclusion in the Green Economy, DOT extends an invitation for you to join us on this transformative journey. Together, let’s empower women and girls to become architects of a greener and more inclusive tomorrow. The future is bright, and it starts with each of us taking meaningful steps today.

Call to Action:

Join the movement! Share the Principles for Digital Inclusion in the Green Economy  with your network and be a catalyst for change. Together, we can shape a future where everyone, regardless of gender, plays a crucial role in building a sustainable world. 

Principles for Digital Inclusion in the Green Economy

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue our commitment to advancing digital inclusion and sustainability.

Digital Opportunity Trust and the Mastercard Foundation are partnering for Going Beyond

OTTAWA, Canada, July 12, 2023 — Digital Opportunity Trust and the Mastercard Foundation are partnering to support over 300,000 young women and men to gain relevant entrepreneurial skills and foster a network ecosystem of support for young leaders.

The “Going Beyond – Partnering for a Youth-Led Future” project aims to scale DOT’s evidence-based, peer-to-peer model and will be executed in four African countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania. The linkage to DOT’s model ensures comprehensive digital and business skills training, leadership development, coaching, peer-to-peer learning, and networking.

The Going Beyond project will foster a network ecosystem of support for young leaders with the aim of improving their quality of life and building their resilience, agency, and amplifying their voice. Notably, the project will also introduce a leaner, more scalable model for long-term, transformational change by fostering a community of practice among a continuously expanding ecosystem of partners.

Over five years, and with the support of DOT regional hubs in Africa, the Going Beyond project will progressively transfer the responsibility for delivering DOT’s programs and equip youth as leaders of the future through a three-pronged approach:

  • Strengthening the capacity of 40 local youth-led and youth-led organizations (YLOs) to deliver high-quality digital livelihoods programming.
  • Training and supporting 4,000 young people (Youth Leaders) under the guidance of YLOs as digital business coaches and facilitators to deliver locally appropriate and culturally relevant digital inclusion and enterprise growth programs to their peers.
  • Training 300,000 disadvantaged young people with nascent Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in digital and entrepreneurship skills, 70 percent of whom are young women.

Most importantly, the project places young people at the center of the solution, tapping into their creativity, energy, and passion for making a difference; going beyond conventional development practices and extending impact to new countries for both organizations, without the need to establish and operate new offices.

“The Going Beyond program, which will harness the power of young people to lead community-driven solutions and create and obtain dignified and fulfilling work in four countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia – is an opportunity to tell a compelling story of youth leadership and capacity to transform Africa – and to catalyze the adoption of youth-led approaches across the continent,” says Janet Longmore, Founder and CEO, Digital Opportunity Trust

Violette Uwamutara, Regional Vice President of Africa, Digital Opportunity Trust agrees, “DOT is excited to serve as regional hubs for this project and build a network of connected individuals, organizations and MSMEs that share knowledge, support each other and shift the mindsets of their peers, communities and systems – trusting youth as the leaders of community transformation and our future.”

The ‘Going Beyond’ project aligns with the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy, which aims to enable 30 million young people in Africa to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030, particularly young women. It extends the impact beyond youth in work to advance youth leadership, digital skills, gender equality, and women’s empowerment.

Africa’s youth population represents a significant pool of human capital that can drive economic growth and social progress. Young people have the potential to be at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship in high-growth sectors such as technology, climate-smart agriculture, and renewable energy. Women and girls, in particular, can play a crucial role as powerful agents of change in their communities, contributing to economic growth and social progress.

Despite being a youthful continent, Africa faces significant challenges in harnessing the potential of its youth population. The continent has the highest youth unemployment rate globally – 20.8 percent in 2020 – more than 2.5 times higher than the adult unemployment rate. This situation is particularly dire for young women.

“Going Beyond is designed to envision young people as leaders in their communities, and we believe that a combination of YLO capacity building, locally appropriate 21st-century skills, entrepreneurship, and MSME support will be an effective means of bringing this vision to life while addressing youth employment in the four countries this project will be executed in. In addition, Going Beyond’s work, which is also in line with the Young Africa Works strategy, will help young women and men find dignified and meaningful work,” adds Reeta Roy, President and CEO, Mastercard Foundation.

When applied in this way, the youth-led model equips young people with market-relevant technical skills and the confidence to secure, sustain and thrive in the 21st-century working world, in turn creating a ripple effect of change in communities across the African continent, with young entrepreneurs becoming catalysts for broader behavioral change and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

About Digital Opportunity Trust

DOT is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, with a ‘footprint’ across 12 countries. DOT has locally managed offices in Africa, the Middle East; Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Lebanon and Jordan; Canada and the UK. DOT’s presence extends to Ghana, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia through local partnerships with youth-led organizations. As a youth-led movement of daring social innovators who have the tools, knowledge, and networks to create opportunities and transform their communities in Africa and the Middle East, DOT has created an impact in over 25 countries as development innovators and catalysts placing youth at the center of its activity to unlock their potential, bridge the digital divide across communities, and inspire young people to realize their potential in an inclusive digital economy. www.dotrust.org

About The Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation is a Canadian Foundation and one of the world’s largest foundations, with a mission to advance education and financial inclusion. It works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. The Foundation was established in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company. The Foundation is an independent organization and separate from the company. Its policies, operations, and programs are determined by the Foundation’s Board of Directors and leadership. For more information on the Foundation, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org.