Digital Equity as an Enabling Platform for Equality and Inclusion

Publication: Policy Brief

The global pandemic has laid bare the digital inequities across vertical (income) and horizontal (social, political, and identity) dimensions, while exposing the extent to which pre-pandemic approaches to bridging the digital divide have been dominated by economic considerations even while they are not universally treated as policy priorities.
Children playing in front of a building
"Digital Inclusion in the Peruvian Amazon" by Jack Gordon for USAID / Digital Development Communications, retrieved from, (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Access to digital is a product of both material investment and political will. Where there is no conscious effort to include marginalized communities into digitalization plans, these communities can be left behind. In countries where identity-based exclusion is routinely built into political behavior, there can be systematic patterns of exclusion of specific groups (e.g., the indigenous First Peoples of North America, the Roma of Europe, or the Somali of northeast Kenya). Many countries around the world have such communities, and any work to digitalize a country must be founded on politically and socially conscious efforts to include groups that may be left behind by historical marginalization.

This brief reviews key aspects of the digital divide, with special attention to exclusion and inequality, emphasizing that poor connectivity isn’t just about wealth—it is also about inequality. This paper examines the following:

  • That COVID-19 has shown how poor policymaking in digital access and use deepens the current inequalities in addition to creating new ones,
  • Digital equity through recent thinking, research—and why it matters, and
  • Experience with digital equity initiatives (pre- and post-pandemic).

Finally, the authors provide key recommendations for potential digital policies and interventions that can advance equality and inclusion.

Read the full policy brief: Digital Equity as an Enabling Platform for Equality and Inclusion

This policy brief is part of the Pathfinders Grand Challenge on Inequality & Exclusion. More information about this initiative can be found here.

More Resources

  • Publication: Analysis May 17, 2023 CIC Perspectives

    Managing Opportunities, Challenges, and Expectations for the New Agenda for Peace

    Ahead of the policy brief expected from the UN Secretariat in June 2023, this piece provides a historical glance at past UN reforms, identifies the primary challenges and opportunities the UN and its member states face as they undergo this process, and looks forward to the key priorities that can be taken up from a realistic and practical perspective. Highlighted is how the New Agenda for Peace “provides a rare opportunity for the United Nations to examine and reflect upon the totality of the peace and security work of the Organization to uncover and better understand the synergies and contradictions of the existing processes and structures.”

  • Publication: Policy Brief April 24, 2023

    Does the Present Interpretation of the UN Principles Cause Harm in Syria and Yemen?

    This policy brief takes a comparative examination of how the United Nations has adopted a paradoxical interpretation of its guiding principles to address the complex humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen. It offers approaches that could change the course of international humanitarian operations and protect them from further politicization, weaponization, and diversion.

Stay Connected

Join our mailing list to receive regular updates on our latest events, analysis, and resources.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.