News Article | 4th September 2023
On August 16, 2023, the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) Pacific Hub and GFCE Southeast Asia Hub webinar on “Driving Change: The Imperative of Women Empowerment, Equality, and Inclusiveness in High-Level Cyber Discussions” took place. This virtual assembly drew together over 40 participants from both regions to set in motion a dynamic dialogue centered around women’s empowerment, equality, and inclusivity in shaping high-level cyber discourses and policies.
The webinar opened with keynote remarks presented by Mr. Allan Cabanlong, Director of the GFCE Southeast Asia Hub. Allan emphasized the paramount importance of integrating women empowerment, equality, and inclusiveness into the core of cyber discussions.
Allan was joined by several esteemed panelists of experts and thought leaders from various fields, all dedicated to advancing women’s empowerment and equality in the cyber domain:
- Mr. Chris Painter, President, Foundation Board, Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE);
- Ms. Elise Munro, Senior Policy Officer | Cyber & Tech Multilateral Engagement, International Security Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia;
- Ms. Tupou’tuah Baravilala, Director-General Digital Government Transformation, Cybersecurity and Communications, Ministry of Communications of Fiji;
- Ms. Vowpailin Chovihien, Counsellor, Peace, Security, and Disarmament Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand;
- Ms. Priynka P. Sharma, Assistant Lecturer in Computing Science and Information Systems, University of the South Pacific, Main Campus, Fiji.
With the backdrop of the rapidly evolving digital landscape, the discussions honed in on the pivotal role that high-level deliberations play in molding policies and strategies governing cyberspace. It was underscored that for a sustainable and inclusive digital future, the imperatives of women empowerment, equality, and inclusiveness must be woven into the very fabric of these discussions.
The discussion highlighted the inextricable link between gender diversity and the security of the digital ecosystem. Panelists illuminated how women’s involvement ushers in fresh perspectives, innovation, and resilience, making them crucial architect partners of the cyber landscape. In this regard, Australia was heralded for its proactive stance on gender inclusivity within the two regions. The nation’s commitment to gender equality was exemplified in its role as regional donor for the Women in International Security and Cyberspace Fellowship – a joint program by the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, aimed at ensuring broader representation of women in United Nations negotiations on cyberspace.
The necessity of collaboration for sustainable change was also highlighted in the discussions. It was agreed that advocating for policy shifts that promote gender equality and diversity in the tech and cybersecurity sector, in addition to working closely with policymakers to incorporate gender-responsive approaches, is crucial for the way forward for all regions.
As the event drew to a close, Mr. Saia Vaipuna, Director of the GFCE Pacific Hub, delivered the closing remarks that encapsulated the shared aspirations of all the participants. His words resonated with the collective dedication and commitment to champion gender equality in cyber.
In a world increasingly defined by digital transformation, it was agreed that women’s empowerment, equality, and inclusivity in shaping high-level cyber discourses and policies is critical.