Bridging the Digital Gender Gap
GS1 GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions
- Despite global progress in closing the gender gap, women and girls are still falling behind in the digital world.
More about the Digital gender gap
- It is the disparities in access to information and communication technologies between men and women.
- The term “digital gender gap” was coined in 2010 by UN Women.
- Digital equity entails ensuring that everyone has access to the internet and the skills necessary to use it effectively.
Data on the digital divide:
- According to a UNICEF report, as many as 90 percent of jobs in the world today require digital skills.
- However, these jobs are only available to those with digital skills, and more men than women.
- According to the report, only 41% of women in developing countries have access to the internet, compared to 53% of men.
- Women are 20% less likely to own a smartphone and more likely to borrow one from male relatives.
- According to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the gender gap in internet usage is widening.
- Software development is still dominated by men, with only 15% of software designers being female.
ICUBE is an annual syndicated study of Kantar to measure the reach and frequency of Internet users in India.
- Data on the use of the internet in India indicates that in comparison with 58% of male internet users, female users are only 42%.
Significance of bridging the Gender Digital Divide
Benefits to women & Nation:
- By 2025, India intends to have a $1 trillion digital economy.
- Already, 40 percent of global digital transactions occur in India.
- In 2022, India will experience a staggering 49 billion digital transactions.
- As economies continue to digitise, there is every reason to believe that digital technology knowledge will be required for the majority of jobs.
- Girls and women have numerous opportunities to power and profit from India’s digital economy.
Can act as a multiplier effect:
- Our young population is the largest in the world, and women and girls make up nearly half of it.
- Access to digital technology can be a game-changer with multiplier effects for young women.
Acting as a solution:
- Providing women with Internet access and teaching them digital skills can help them overcome numerous obstacles.
- With access to the Internet, women can gain new knowledge and skills, connect with others, and discover new opportunities. Digital knowledge can also contribute significantly to the safety of women.
- Digital equality enables women to realise their full potential.
Challenges leading to Gender Digital Divide
- The post-pandemic world:
- Using the limited smartphones and computers available, children struggled to keep up with their coursework.
- According to UNESCO, approximately 168 million girls enrolled in pre-primary to post-secondary education were affected.
- It is possible that boys had greater access to scarce digital resources in some families.
- Always second to men:
- Girls and women are denied access to digital technologies because they almost always come second in a patriarchal social order.
- Data on literacy, education, and access to resources confirm the reality of their being second to men.
- Online abuse faced by women:
- The dangerous trend of online abuse was causing women to lose their jobs, causing girls to skip school, harming relationships, and silencing female voices, leading him to conclude that “the Internet is not working for women and girls.”
- Offline impacts:
- Online harassment often translates into offline impacts and consequences, with much-documented evidence in this regard.
- Inadequate artificial intelligence:
- The third threat comes from badly designed artificial intelligence systems that repeat and exacerbate discrimination.
Addressing the divide:
- Addressing the digital divide requires urgent, specialised, and concentrated government efforts.
- Significant investments must be made annually in digital infrastructure.
Need of policy interventions:
- o Closing the gender gap will necessitate interventions in health, education, employment, banking, skills development, and transportation that are specifically designed for girls and women.
- o A policy environment conducive to empowering women digitally is a step in the right direction.
- Digital skills, required today both for life and for livelihoods, must be imparted on a war footing by transforming government digital literacy programmes into skilling missions, and expanding outreach, including through the private sector.
Online safety of women:
- Social media platforms can utilise their “algorithm power” to proactively address the safety issue.
- Governments must strengthen laws that hold online abusers accountable, and members of the public must speak out whenever they observe online abuse.
Example of ‘Digital Sakhis’:
- Young women known as ‘Digital Sakhis’ from Madhya Pradesh are upturning discriminatory social norms through the use of smartphones.
- The digital gender gap is not only a modern social evil but also a huge economic constraint
- To leave women out of the digital world would amount to denying what today has become a basic skill for survival.
- Making the right use of the G20 platform:
- As India assumed the G20 presidency, the Prime Minister emphasised the necessity of ‘women-led development’
- Women20, the G20’s official engagement platform to promote gender equity, identifies “bridging the gender digital divide” as one of its five priorities for this year’s G20 agenda.
Daily Mains Question
Despite global progress in closing the gender gap, women and girls are still lagging behind in the digital world. Analyse. Suggestions for achieving Digital Equity effectively