APrIGF 2023 Session Proposal Submission Form
Part 1 - Lead Organizer
Contact Person
Ms. Sylvia Cadena
Organization / Affiliation (Please state "Individual" if appropriate) *
APNIC Foundation
Head of Programs and Partnerships
Economy of Residence
Primary Stakeholder Group
Technical Community
Part 2 - Session Proposal
Session Title
Investing in professional development for a diverse workforce in APAC: challenges and opportunities
Session Format
Panel Discussion
Where do you plan to organize your session?
Onsite at the venue (with online moderator for questions and comments from remote participants)
Specific Issues for Discussion
Diversity enriches every aspect of the life. When efforts to bring those different experiences to those working in the Internet industry, the opportunities to build technology that is thoughtful and inclusive of all potential users increase. However, organizations in this space struggle to structure diverse technical teams, despite research showing that diverse technical teams have better opportunities to discuss deeply about ideas, topics and products, question the facts more objectively, don’t take things for granted but present their perspectives and question the status quo through discussions, which in turns reflects in solid technical outcomes.

The APNIC Foundation started working on gender and diversity through a consultation process that led to the design of two projects that focus on skills and capacity development for Internet industry professionals. One project provides support for women and gender diverse engineers across 6 South-East Asia economies and the other one is focusing on supporting engineers in (and from) Afghanistan. The approach developed is based on personalized plans with ongoing support for training, certification and coaching, to women, gender diverse engineers as well as engineers in economies emerging from conflict. Part of that, requires the development of a life-long learning commitment and strategies to support the

In conversation with technical professionals across organizations from different stakeholders, the session will explore challenges and opportunities these Internet industry professionals (and their employers) face to find the right balance for their investment on critical topics such as 1) acquiring new technical skills vs. operational expertise and confidence; 2) allocating time/effort for personal learning vs. dealing with the pressures of a growing demand for a secure, stable, reliable Internet that is accessible and affordable; 3) identify and address structural barriers to develop their workforce.
Describe the Relevance of Your Session to APrIGF
The APrIGF theme this year is asking if the Asia Pacific region is ready for the next phase of the Internet. The session will tackle a very important element of that readiness assessment which is the shortage of technical professionals across a number of disciplines that are key for Internet development and stability. It is becoming abundantly clear that the investment to develop a strong workforce requires collaboration across multiple stakeholders so that the acquisition of new technical knowledge is linked to opportunities to develop operational expertise and boost confidence to make technical decisions so that developing economies in the APAC region can raise to the challenges a growing demand for a secure, stable, reliable Internet that is accessible and affordable to all.
Methodology / Agenda (Please add rows by clicking "+" on the right)
Time frame (e.g. 5 minutes, 20 minutes, should add up to 60 minutes) Description
5 minutes Set the scene
25 minutes Experiences from 3 Internet professionals from 2 SEA economies and Afghanistan to acquire new knowledge, develop operational experience and boost confidence
25 minutes In conversation with the audience: challenges and opportunities for a diverse Internet industry workforce
5 minutes Wrap-up and main takeaways
Moderators & Speakers Info (Please complete where possible)
  • Moderator (Primary)

    • Name: Sylvia
    • Organization: APNIC Foundation
    • Designation: Head of Programs and Partnerships
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Australia
    • Stakeholder Group: Technical Community
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Moderator (Facilitator)

    • Name: Omar Ansari
    • Organization: APNIC Foundation
    • Designation: Afghanistan Training Project Lead
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Afghanistan
    • Stakeholder Group: Technical Community
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 1

    • Name: Bouala Phouannavong
    • Organization: Greenwich English Colleges
    • Designation: Student
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Lao
    • Stakeholder Group: Private Sector
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 2

    • Name: Minh Châu Lưu
    • Organization: CoreLogic Australia
    • Designation: Data Analyst
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Viet Nam
    • Stakeholder Group: Private Sector
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 3

    • Name: Lima Madom
    • Organization: Geneva University
    • Designation: Student
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Afghanistan
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: Online
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 4

    • Name: N/A
    • Stakeholder Group: Select One
    • Expected Presence: Select One
    • Status of Confirmation: Select One
  • Speaker 5

    • Stakeholder Group: Select One
    • Expected Presence: Select One
    • Status of Confirmation: Select One
Please explain the rationale for choosing each of the above contributors to the session.
APNIC Foundation staff will be on site and support the organization of the session, the remote participation and the moderation. We have invited representatives from Viet Nam and Laos to join on site as well as one representative Afghanistan to join remotely.
If you need assistance to find a suitable speaker to contribute to your session, or an onsite facilitator for your online-only session, please specify your request with details of what you are looking for.
Not required
Please declare if you have any potential conflict of interest with the Program Committee 2023.
Are you or other session contributors planning to apply for the APrIGF Fellowship Program 2023?
APrIGF offers live transcript in English for all sessions. Do you need any other translation support or any disability related requests for your session? APrIGF makes every effort to be a fully inclusive and accessible event, and will do the best to fulfill your needs.
To be confirmed
Brief Summary of Your Session
The Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) 2023 took place in Brisbane, Australia, from 28th August to 1st September 1 (including Day 0 on 28th and a parliamentary track on 1st September). The conference hosted a multitude of attendees and various sessions organized by different entities. Among these, the APNIC Foundation organized a session on 29th August titled "Investing in Professional Development for a Diverse Workforce in APAC: Challenges and Opportunities."

The session was centered on the crucial role of diversity in the Internet industry, highlighting women and gender-diverse individuals, and the challenges faced in their professional journey. It was structured into the following major segments: i) setting the science by moderator; ii) experiences from the 3 women Internet professionals; iii) challenges and opportunities for women and gender-diverse engineers; and iv) solutions and way forward on these challenges.

Moderated by Omar Mansoor Ansari from the APNIC Foundation, the session featured three panel speakers: Minh Châu Lưu aka Evelyn from Vietnam, Bouala Phouannavong from Laos, and Lima Madomi from Afghanistan. These women engineers, who participated in the APNIC Foundation’s Technical Training and Mentoring Support to Internet Professionals in Afghanistan (“Afghanistan Project”) and Switch!: Fostering women’s technical participation in the Internet industry in South East Asia (“Switch!”) projects, shared their experiences, discussed challenges, and outlined potential solutions for advancing diversity in the Asia-Pacific Internet industry.
Substantive Summary of the Key Issues Raised and the Discussion
Discussed issues: unequal education access, societal biases for women in tech, and community support. APNIC Foundation's projects, "Afghanistan Project" and "Switch! Project," highlighted for promoting gender diversity and professional growth in the Internet industry.

- Setting the Scene: Omar Ansari emphasized: a) diversity's role in fostering innovation and internet inclusivity; b) APNIC Foundation's mission and initiatives in developing skills for internet professionals, with a focus on women, gender-diverse individuals, and conflict-affected regions; c) highlighted support for technical training and gender diversity through the "Switch!" and "Afghanistan" projects, both aimed at enhancing technical skills among women and gender-diverse groups in the Asia Pacific.
- Voices and experiences of Internet professionals: Evelyn, Bouala, and Lima shared their personal journeys and how the Foundation projects supported their professional development, emphasizing the importance of capacity building in the APAC region.
Captivating stories: Evelyn, a Data Analyst at Core Logic Australia, shared her journey, highlighting how the APNIC Foundation's "Switch! Project" boosted her career. Lima recounted her transition from Afghanistan to Switzerland and her IoT and programming language skills gained from the "Afghanistan Project." Bouala, a network operations professional in Laos, discussed her experiences as a woman in tech and how the "Switch! Project" empowered her to overcome barriers and advance in her career.
- Broader landscape of challenges: the speakers explored into the broader landscape of challenges and opportunities concerning a diverse workforce in the Internet sector in APAC.
- Exploring further insights: gathered perspectives on support from regional Internet communities, and ways stakeholders can assist in addressing the challenges, especially in promoting workforce diversity, and the broader significance of diversity in the Internet sector.
Engaging audiences: the session facilitated a Q&A segment, allowing for exchange between the audience and the panel. Discussions revolved around educational accessibility and support structures for women in the Internet sector.
Conclusions and Suggestions of Way Forward
The session offered invaluable insights from shared experiences, guiding endeavors to foster a diverse workforce in the APAC region. It emphasized the imperative of equal opportunities, especially in Laos and Vietnam, while laying the groundwork for future discussions on diversity and inclusion in the Internet industry. The core issues for future endeavours include:

• Digital evolution of rural societies: rural communities are rapidly becoming vital to the digital world, both as consumers and innovation hubs. By nurturing Internet professionals from these areas, we can create a balanced and equitable Internet community with widespread opportunities.
• Amplifying the voices of women and gender-diverse individuals: these community segments, despite being key digital users, confront challenges like invisibility and digital violence. Their need for champions—professionals who advocate for their rights and lead transformative initiatives—is evident. Such leaders, grounded in personal experience, can facilitate tailored and meaningful change.
• Bridging the gender digital divide in the Internet industry: the gender divide in the ICT sector, especially in networking, design, and programming, holds potential for transformation. By promoting gender-responsive programs, we can make Internet governance and Internet governance processes and applications more inclusive, powerful, and impactful.
• The role of local languages in technical learning: promoting technical training/education in local languages offers unique benefits, but how does it fit within the larger, globalized Internet community and economic system? Understanding the merits and challenges of blending global standards with local nuances is crucial for preparing future-ready Internet professionals.
• Women technology professionals combating cybercrimes: with a worrying increase in cybercrimes, particularly those targeting women, necessitates swift action. Empowering women technology professionals can lead to innovative strategies against cyber threats, promoting a safer digital environment.

While it enriches technical discussions/outcomes and its other benefits are evident, achieving diversity remains hindered by several barriers. The speakers highlighted the need for international collaboration, particularly in the APAC region. The role of APrIGF and APNIC/Foundation in fostering these discussions is vital, and continued engagement from all stakeholders is essential for promoting inclusivity.

Reaffirming the pivotal role of diversity in spurring innovation, the session shed light on the collective efforts needed to tackle unequal educational opportunities and societal biases. The session moderator concluded the session with the Afghan proverb, "Pa yaw gul na pasarlai kegi," which translates to "not from a lone flower does the spring rise." This serves as an evocative reminder that the Internet garden flourishes with diverse flowers, emphasizing collective endeavor for a beautiful spring.
Number of Attendees (Please fill in numbers)
    • On-site: 32
    • Online: 8
Gender Balance in Moderators/Speakers (Please fill in numbers)
  • Moderators

    • Male: 1
    • Female: 1
  • Speakers

    • Female: 3
How were gender perspectives, equality, inclusion or empowerment discussed? Please provide details and context.
The discussion was intertwined with themes of gender perspectives, equality, inclusion, and empowerment. The APNIC Foundation's "Switch! Project” and “Afghanistan Project” were highlighted for its commitment to empowering women in developing, underserved and conflict regions through technical education and engagement.

Asia-Pacific Perspective:
The APAC viewpoint on diversity in the Internet industry was elucidated, emphasizing the unique challenges faced within the region, especially in Afghanistan, Laos and Vietnam. The discourse accentuated the need for tailored initiatives and combined efforts to address these regional challenges and advocate for inclusivity.
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