Technology can be catalyst in narrowing gender gap: President Halimah, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Technology can be catalyst in narrowing gender gap: President Halimah

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Technology can be a catalyst for narrowing the gender gap, President Halimah Yacob said at the opening of the Women's Forum Singapore yesterday at the Raffles City Convention Centre.

The forum, part of an international platform that looks at major social and economic issues from a female perspective, aims to foster women's leadership for social progress and economic impact across the world.

"We have, today, a world that is disrupted. Disruption has accelerated changes and challenges to the economy," said Madam Halimah, noting that a World Economic Forum study found that the automation of jobs was more likely to impact women negatively.

But she said research has also shown that access to and, more importantly, the ability to understand and use technologies could have a positive impact on women's education and employment opportunities.

"By providing skills training and creating the right pipelines, businesses can allow women to be in leadership positions," she said.

Bridging the gender gap through innovation was one of the recurring themes of the forum, which attracted more than 700 delegates and 100 speakers from various sectors and industries in Asean, Europe, China, India and other nations.

Over three days ending tomorrow, the Women's Forum Singapore will hold more than 20 sessions to discuss topics including artificial intelligence, climate change, women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, smart cities and responsible finance.

Yesterday, panellists discussed emerging technological tools such as data analytics shaping the region, the growth of billion dollar start-ups in Asia and how business education can prepare women for leadership roles.

A 2018 study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that Asia-Pacific economies could add $4.5 trillion to their collective gross domestic product (GDP) by advancing gender equality.

It said Singapore could add some $26 billion to its annual GDP by doing so.