Measuring the Margins: A Global Framework for Digital Inclusion

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    Project Manager :
    Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen


    This year, the High-Level Panel of the Secretary-General of the United Nations has called on the private sector, civil society, national governments, multilateral banks and the UN itself to adopt specific policies to support full digital inclusion and digital equality for traditionally marginalised groups.

    According to the UN Report The Age of Digital Interdependence, “to capture the power of digital technologies we need to cooperate on the broader ecosystems that enable digital technologies to be used in an inclusive manner. This will require policy frameworks that directly support economic and social inclusion and special efforts to bring traditionally marginalised groups to the fore.”The report also calls for a set of metrics for digital inclusiveness to be urgently agreed, measured worldwide and detailed with sex disaggregated data in the annual reports of institutions such as the UN, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, other multilateral development banks and the OECD. From this, strategies and plans of action could be developed by policymakers.


    The objective is two-fold.

    First, the problem is that while some preliminary work is underway, there is currently no agreed set of clear metrics or standards for the inclusiveness of digital technologies. While existing metrics will evolve over time, this report should contribute to advancing preliminary research through a multi-stakeholder consultation, case study exploration and analysis in order to establish a basis of shared global understanding of digital inclusion metrics. 

    Second, to solve the project, the following research questions should be addressed:

    How should digital inclusion be measured?
    What kind of metrics already exist and how might they be replicated to advance digital inclusion policy globally?


    Explain the multiple dimensions of the problem and clarify its scope: 
    Consider challenges and opportunities of informed and appropriate solutions in the form of case studies (policy frameworks, tools or initiatives with digital inclusion metrics in practice) from around the world
    Provide a set of detailed, actionable recommendations for policymakers
    Recommendations should be action-oriented and directed to policymakers. Example: Policymakers should incorporate digital inclusion as a key metric in approving and evaluating projects → exactly what should this metric be? How will it be quantified? Share examples from existing initiatives.


    The report should be global in scope. Case studies of digital inclusion metrics from around the world should be well-distributed/balanced internationally throughout the piece; no one geographical area of the world should be overrepresented. Case studies should include the following components of who, what, when, where, why, how. Qhat worked and what didn’t?
    Takeaways and lessons learned.
    Facets of digital inclusion which may be considered include but are not limited to gender, financial services, health, government services, national digital economy policies, use of online e-commerce platforms and mobile device penetration. ○ Each case study should address at least one specific traditionally marginalised group including but not limited to: women, SMEs, low-income groups and non-digital hubs.
    The report should be firmly placed in the context of relevant Sustainable Development Goals.


    The project outcomes are: 

    Validation workshop at Digital Future Society Summitt, November 2019, in Barcelona (ES).
    Policy report titled “Measuring the margins: A global framework for digital inclusion”. Available at: and

    • Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen
      Project Manager
    • Joana Carvalho Joana Carvalho Senior Research Assistant
      Junior Researcher
    • Backhouse, Judy
    • Elisabete Simões
    • Mercy Makpor
      Junior Researcher