When Girls Have Access to Technologies, A True Digital Revolution Will Be In Sight – IPS News
Today is International Day of the Girl Child and this year’s theme is “Digital generation. Our generation”. What is the digital generation? It is those who were born into or raised in the digital era. They have wide-spread access to modern-age technology such as smartphones, tablets, computers and the internet.
According to UNICEF, “While the pandemic has accelerated digital platforms for learning, earning and connecting, some 2.2 billion people below the age of 25 still do not have internet access at home. Girls are more likely to be cut off. The gender gap for global internet users grew from 11 per cent in 2013 to 17 per cent in 2019. In the world’s least developed countries, it hovers around 43 per cent”.
Read the following stories of how girls are making waves in the digital age.
Eight adolescent girls and young women recoding gender equality
Most girls don’t grow up in a world of opportunity. They build one.
9 Adolescent girls around the world film their lives under lockdown
Girls’ Satellites Soar to the Stars
Kazakhstan’s nanosatellite initiative propels girls to the forefront of science and technology.
UNICEF says that girls know their digital realities and the solutions they need to pave paths to freedom of expression, joy and boundless potential and calls for us to, “widen these pathways so that this generation of girls can become a generation of technologists“.
According to the UN Women Statement for International Day of the Girl Child, “To be a girl today is to be part of a digital generation. From the teenage girls taking part in coding camps across Africa through to the members of the Afghan Girls Robotics Team showing the power of upholding girls’ right to education, girls have proven that they are more than ready to lead the digital transformation.
“For this to happen we must take into account the diverse digital realities that girls face and the ways in which these can deepen the gender divide around connectivity, skills and online safety. Globally, 2.2 billion people below the age of 25 do not have internet access at home, with girls more likely to be cut off. Those who do get online too often encounter cyberviolence; in a recent survey of 14,000 girls in 31 countries, more than half (58 per cent) had been harassed and abused online. In middle and higher-income countries, only 14 per cent of girls who were top performers in science or mathematics expected to work in science and engineering compared to 26 per cent of top-performing boys. These realities are compounded for girls with poor access to internet or electricity and those living in conflict or crisis situations that compromise their right to education and access to enabling technology.
“We cannot afford for girls to be left out of the digital transformation. Not only do digital inclusion and literacy open new avenues for girls’ learning and earning, technology is a crucial enabler of the change girls are already leading around the world in areas such as gender equality, climate action and social justice”.
The UN Women also said in their statement that they will continue to put girls at the heart of the digital revolution by supporting initiatives that include digital access and the development of digital skills; investments in feminist technology and innovation for social impact; new partnerships to build inclusive, transformative and accountable innovation ecosystems; and the design of new tools to prevent and eliminate online and tech-facilitated gender-based violence and discrimination. They will continue to insist that girls’ right to education, including in ICT and STEM subjects, is non-negotiable.
“On this International Day of the Girl, let us work together to ensure that girls are connected, supported and empowered so that we are co-leading the journey of digital transformation” (UN Women).
“Girls are leaders. Girls are change-makers. Girls are driving good and growth around the world. They are a fundamental source of transformational change for gender equality, and technology is a crucial tool to support their work, activism and leadership” (UN Women).
Read here about how the lives of these girls were impacted by the African Girls Can Code Initiative. One of the girls advises other girls and young women not to “be shy and consider studying STEM and pursue a career in IT and technology. There is a big gender imbalance despite the fact that women equally contribute as men in the economy and development, but because they have no opportunities in STEM, it is difficult for them to contribute meaningfully in (the) tech and IT industry”.
According to AGE Africa, in Malawi, only 14% of the population has internet access via any device and girls in rural communities where the organization delivers programming are most likely to be cut off. To bridge this gap, AGE Africa has transitioned their life skills program, Creating Healthy Approaches to Success (CHATS) to a nationwide radio platform during the pandemic to reach even the most remote corners of the country.
“No boundary to success can stop us. Girls will always rise up and shine”– Sophlet Mbaya, AGE Africa Scholar
In Africa, Information and Communications technology (ICT) is helping women to create, innovate, and improve their economic and social outcomes.
Today, let us celebrate girls’ tech power on Social Media and push for digital equality. In the digital revolution no girl or woman should be left behind but they should be given the opportunity to take their place “in the industries that are shaping our collective future” (Mckinsey Global Institute)
Sources: UNICEF; UN Women; AGE Africa