EQUALS began in 2014 as a collaboration between ITU and UN Women. The GEM-TECH Awards, as EQUALS was initially called, sought to “create a platform for advancing women’s meaningful engagement with ICTs and their role as decision-makers and producers within this sector” by recognizing organizations that worked towards increasing women and girls’ presence in digital spaces, facilitating their access to new technologies and encouraging them to consider studies and careers in ICT.
In line with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), GEM-TECH donors realized that the programme needed a longer-term framework, not only to recognize trailblazers working to bring gender equality to the digital sector, but also to promote and provide institutional support to such work.