LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, on Wednesday said it will invest $5,00,000 (₹3.88 crore) in partnership with UN Women to advance women’s economic empowerment.

The project will launch a pilot in Maharashtra to cultivate the digital, soft and employability skills of 2,000 women and present them with a range of career-building opportunities through job fairs, mentoring sessions and peer-to-peer networks, a statement said.

The three-year regional collaboration will digitally upskill women, providing them greater access to jobs and equipping them to fully participate in the formal economy, it added.

"We are delighted to partner with UN Women to jointly work towards improving female representation and professional diversity across the region's workforce by investing in the upskilling and economic empowerment of women. By bringing women closer to the right skills and resources, we aspire to create a more equitable and all-inclusive talent landscape," said Ashutosh Gupta, India Country Manager, LinkedIn.

The partnership will be guided by the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a set of effective, actionable principles that guide businesses on how to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community.

Supporting women’s economic empowerment

UN Women and LinkedIn will leverage the online platform and institutional expertise to convene partners to support women’s economic empowerment. Together, they will hold joint advocacy campaigns and events, as well as convene key partners from their respective networks to achieve broadly equal opportunities and outcomes for women and men in the workplace.

Additionally, UN Women will leverage its partnerships to offer young women foot-in-the-door opportunities across industries, with a focus on operating the LinkedIn platform and building connections.

"Access to quality education is critical to decent employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for women and girls. The aim of the LINK Women project, in partnership with LinkedIn, is to create a cadre of women who will acquire new digital and employability skills, leading to better jobs,” said Susan Ferguson, Country Representative, UN Women India.

Lack of Internet

A disproportionate number of women lack basic access to the Internet. Addressing gender-responsive technology policymaking in the Asia-Pacific region is crucial given that in Asia, 54.6 per cent of men have access to the internet, compared to 41.3 per cent of women, the statement said.

Women and girls often do not have the same access to education, or type of education, as men and boys do, which sometimes leaves them with decreased digital skills, literacy, and consequentially fewer economic opportunities in an increasingly digital world. In fact, the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 has only widened this opportunity gap for women and girls in the past two years.

After the 15-month pilot, UN Women and LinkedIn will incorporate lessons learned and evaluative feedback to improve the programmes where necessary and then scale it up to other Asia-Pacific countries with UN Women presence.