The UNESCO Chair in ICT4D accepted an invitation in 2021 to join the UN’s Partner2Connect Coalition (P2C), which has been created with the aim of being “a leadership level platform to engage all stakeholders to mobilize and announce new resources, partnerships, and commitments to achieve universal and meaningful connectivity”. The ITU is the overall convener of the Coalition, working in close collaboration with the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), and line with the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.
The Coalition has four Focus Areas, and having participated actively in its meetings over the last six months, we are focusing our engagement primarily on the second of these: how the poor and marginalised can empower themselves through the use of digital technologies.
We are delighted to report that our pledge to Partner2Connect has now been validated. This is to advise, engage and involve Partner2Connect partners in delivering effective and empowering interventions with the world’s most marginalised people and communities.
We are offering the Coalition and its partners three main things:
- An opportunity to engage directly in and contribute to our ongoing and future initiatives working with poor and marginalised communities and people who choose to use digital technologies for their empowerment. This will focus on five main areas:
- Our work with migrants (especially in Nepal and South Africa as part of MIDEQ) to craft digital interventions that will reduce the inequalities associated with migration (led by Hari Harindranath and Maria Rosa Lorini)
- Our work with people with disabilities, especially with our partner the Inter Islamic Network on IT throughout the Islamic world (led mainly by Akber Gardezi and Tahir Naeem)
- Our work through TEQtogether on changing men’s attitudes to women and digital tech, especially in patriarchal societies (with the support of ICT4D.at, and led by Tim Unwin, Liz Quaglia and Paul Spiesberger)
- Indigenous peoples and small island developing states (SIDS), especially with our partners RC-DISC at the University of Canberra and ISITI at the University of Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) (involving Roger Harris and Ahmed Imran)
- Work on entrepreneurship. This has mainly been focused since 2018 in Kazakhstan and Central Asia on empowering creative local start-ups with entrepreneurship skills for growth and development (led by Endrit Kromidha)
- Contributing expertise in research and practice to the further conceptual development of Focus Area 2 so that all activities are developed in accordance with the latest understanding of inclusive, equal and safe access and use of ICTs for all. We recognise that there are many differing views about empowerment, and we relish the opportunity to engage with other partner organisations to develop shared understandings of benefit to P2C and to the world’s least connected peoples.
- Offering training in empowerment theory and practice to partners within P2C. We look forward to the opportunity to engage actively with other P2C partners through workshops and other forms of tailored training to share our experiences of delivering digital interventions with and for the most marginalised, focusing especially on the notion of empowerment that lies at the heart of Focus Area 2.
We are one of the few academic entities yet to pledge commitments to Partner2Connect, and look forward to continuing to engage with and contribute to its actitivites, especially helping to ensure that the world’s poorest and most marginalised do indeed benefit from the increased global connectivity that the Coalition seeks to provide.
Please use our Contacts Page should you wish to find out more or to work with us in driving these pledges forward