In tech-driven 21st century, achieving global development goals requires closing digital gender divide

UNHCR/Egor Dubrovsky Nine-year-old Masha (left), a refugee from Ukraine, designs computer games at a programming class in Minsk, Belarus, part of the eKIDS programme, an innovative tech project sponsored by UNHCR and EPAM Systems.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Bridging the ‘gender digital divide’ is about more than ensuring that women and girls have basic access to the Internet and cell phones; it means providing training so they have the skills to use information and communications technologies (ICTs) to their benefit, and taking active measures to boost the numbers of women in ICT leadership positions, including in academia and entrepreneurship.

These are among the key takeaways from the inaugural report of the EQUALS Research Group, led by the United Nations University (UNU), which puts structural issues and core concerns that women and girls face online at the centre of efforts to understand the gender digital divide.

Equality in ICT access involves more than mere availability and use of mobile phones. To what extent do women have equal access to devices other than mobile phones, as well as control over those devices and the ability to use the technology in beneficial ways?

With women and girls making up the majority of the more than three billion people offline, closing the gender digital divide has the potential to empower women both online and off, in various facets of their lives including their economic and social conditions.

Gender gap in mobile internet use in low and middle income countries by region

In the report’s foreword, UN Secretary-General António Guterres agrees that ICTs have the potential to alleviate many of the steep barriers faced by women, and to ensure the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is achieved by all, but says to reach those goals, the international community needs the data and evidence that demonstrate the extent and implications of the gender divide.

“This [report] fulfils that need by providing comprehensive insights on gender digital inequality, highlighting the implications of persistent gaps and the reduced, unequal and even dangerous digital experiences of women and girls compared to men and boys,” he explains.

The report outlines the state of gender equality in access to information and communication technologies; differences between men’s and women’s digital skills; and the extent of women’s participation in digital technology industries as employees, leaders and entrepreneurs.

“Its findings should urge us to make urgent investments in digital gender equality, as a foundation for all our work,” says Mr. Guterres, adding that it also highlights the importance of gender-disaggregated data to identify and monitor inequalities, without which it is impossible to assess progress and the achievement of development goals.

KEY FINDINGS

  • Gender digital divides are not all the same. The gender digital divide persists irrespective of a country’s overall ICT access levels, economic performance, income level or geographic location. Cultural and institutional constraints help shape how the gender digital divide manifests itself in a country. A one-size-fits-all approach to the issue will not be effective.
  • The gender digital divide widens as technologies become more sophisticated and expensive, enabling more transformational use and impacts.
  • Basic digital access and literacy are necessary but not sufficient conditions for women to meaningfully use ICTs.
  • Use is not the same as ownership. As ITU begins to collect gender-disaggregated data around mobile phone use and ownership, the disparity between the two indicators appears to be key to understanding women’s disadvantages in access to ICTs.
  • The potential of mobile phones is under-realized. Despite its lower cost as compared to using a computer, the number of women using mobile internet remains substantially low relative to men.

The report, released in connection with the current session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63), which opened at UN Headquarters on Monday and will run through 22 March, finds, among others, that while gender gaps are observable in most aspects of ICT access, skills and leadership, the overall picture is quite complex.

For example, there are large regional variations: some countries are close to parity or have even reversed the gender gap on some indicators, while others still have persistent gaps. Moreover, individual countries can have both large and small gaps, depending on the indicator being measured. Interpreting the gaps requires careful and contextualized analysis.

These and other complexities spotlight the fact that there is no one conclusive strategy for eliminating gender digital inequalities. The report finds that recommendations generally call either for targeting specific contributing factors of gender digital inequality (such as affordability or recruiting practices), or for reshaping deeply ingrained social norms and practices (such as gender stereotypes) that are at the root of gender inequalities.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

A Europe that Protects: Commission calls for decisive action on security priorities

How the diaspora is helping Venezuela’s migration crisis

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Latin America, in association with The European Sting

1 million citizens try to create a new EU institution

Can free trade deliver cheaper renewable energy? Ask Mexico

On the first day of 2019, over 395,000 babies to be born worldwide: UNICEF

Qualcomm to be the next target of EU antitrust regulators? China might be the answer

Scoring for the environment: what Mathieu Flamini’s top-flight football career taught him about leadership

CEOs in these countries are more likely to go with their gut

Pandemic mental health: the urgency of self-care

Financing fossil fuels risks a repeat of the 2008 crash. Here’s why

Changing how we produce and consume: New Circular Economy Action Plan shows the way to a climate-neutral, competitive economy of empowered consumers

Your smartphone may know more about your mental health than you

Future Forces Forum: Prague will be hosting the most important project in the field of Defence and Security

Gig workers among the hardest hit by coronavirus pandemic

EU budget: Reinforcing Europe’s cultural and creative sectors

Stepped-up efforts needed to combat pneumonia; save nearly nine million children’s lives

COVID-19: What to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 6 April

Brexit and migration dominates the debate on October’s EU summit

EU-Turkey relations: Will Turkey manage to revive the EU accession process talks?

European Semester Autumn Package: Creating an economy that works for people and the planet

Burundi: Inclusive dialogue ‘only viable option’ for resolving country’s political crisis says, UN envoy

EU Youth Conference in Amsterdam: enabling young people to engage in a diverse, connected and inclusive Europe

Africa-Europe Alliance: first projects kicked off just three months after launch

Here are 4 of the most politically charged World Cup games ever played

This chart shows the total number of COVID-19 cases and recoveries so far

Supporting the recovery: MEPs adopt budget priorities for 2021

This is how the Western Balkans will become more innovative

EU out to conquer African Union summit

Nearly half a billion people can’t find decent work; unemployment set to rise: new UN labour report

With potential to boost profits by up to 20 per cent, a woman’s place is at work, says UN labour agency

Junior Enterprises as a solution for Youth Entrepreneurship

Spring 2019 Economic Forecast: Growth continues at a more moderate pace

UN chief condemns suspected Boko Haram attacks targeting Eid al-Fitr celebrations in Nigeria

IMF: The near-term outlook for the U.S. economy is one of strong growth and job creation

Capital Markets Union: Making it easier for insurers to invest in the real economy

Germany loves a strong euro; the new Fiscal Councils can deliver despite the Greek chaos and a wider questioning of austerity

Can Greece’s devastating economy deal with the migration crisis?

Do men and women really have different leadership styles?

We can build a carbon-neutral world by 2050. Here’s how

New identity cards deliver recognition and protection for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

These 11 EU states already meet their 2020 renewable energy targets

International Court of Justice orders Pakistan to review death penalty for Indian accused of spying

Mother of all mergers between Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram: EU Data Privacy restrictions against Facebook’s imperialistic plans

Antibiotics are contaminating the world’s rivers

New ECB boss quizzed for the first time by Economic Affairs Committee

MEPs back update of rail passenger rights across EU

Batteries included: how better storage can transform renewable energy

Venezuelan crisis: MEPs reaffirm their support for Juan Guaidó

‘Reasons to hope’ for sustainable peace in Central African Republic – UN Mission chief

Four million Syrian children have only known war since birth: UNICEF

Germany fears that Americans and Russians want to partition Europe again

Radio still a powerful worldwide tool for ‘dialogue, tolerance and peace’: Guterres

More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges

Stronger partnerships with post-conflict countries needed to ensure ‘path towards durable peace’: UN chief

I accidentally went viral on TikTok. I learned we failed our youngest generation.

Code of Practice against disinformation: Commission calls on signatories to intensify their efforts

To retire at 65, American millennials need to save almost half their paycheck

New EU rules cut red tape for citizens living or working in another Member State as of tomorrow

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s