The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) have been seizing the opportunities of digital in connecting citizens across the 607 islands dispersed in the pacific. The digital transformation of FSM is a whole-of-government approach in collaboration with various national and international sectors to accelerate efficient adaptation, and the Digital FSM and Smart Islands projects aim to set-up critical foundations for reliable and secure digital services to create and strengthen access to essential services. These includes the establishment of national connectivity infrastructure; accessibility of digital government platforms (e.g. digital data portal and geospatial information); an enabling environment for an inclusive and affordable access to internet; and accelerating digital skills development.
These efforts translated to increased internet users in FSM of +0.9 percent between 2022 and 2023, with internet penetration at 40.4 percent of the total population in the first quarter of 2023. There has been progress to equalize access among men and women, heeding the call to reframe approaches on gender equality through borderless and equitable digital platforms. As the Pacific nations work towards gender equality, the first Micronesian Gender Equality Framework is set to launch by 2025 addressing inequalities and challenges to empower women and girls in FSM. A parallel collaboration is at speed to bridge the digital gender divide through creation of a dependable access to digital skills, and online (local, regional, and international markets) networks of opportunities for women to work.
When internet access was presented to Erina, Juleen, and Judie, three Pohnpeian women of Micronesia, no time was wasted as they created new opportunities for their sewing business (JEMS), using a digital platform to sell and digital payment to collect sales. They have diversified their household income and are able to cover basic needs for the family. Initiatives like this have trickled down from national level to communities through the collaboration of various stakeholders. An inclusive by design digital transformation addresses the needs of the most vulnerable, and implements with people and human rights at the core of all aspects. It opens possibilities and opportunities for the extremely vulnerable communities, and can be a critical lifeline for the people of the Pacific.
Read the full SIDS Bulletin 70.