Digital technology has become an essential part of our lives, providing us with various tools to communicate with friends and learn new things. However, it’s imperative to acknowledge that not everyone has equal access to these tools, resulting in a digital divide. This divide is a significant problem that requires our attention, especially when it comes to how it affects boys and girls differently, known as the gender digital divide. Let’s delve into what this divide entails and how we can work collaboratively to bridge this gap.
Technology is like a big toolbox that helps us do many things. But some people have better tools than others. This is called the “digital divide.”
Understanding the Digital Divide:
The digital divide happens because of different reasons. Some people don’t have much money, so they can’t buy computers or phones. Others live far away from places with the internet, so they can’t use it easily. Some older people might not know much about computers, which makes it hard for them to use technology too.
But there’s something else important we need to talk about: boys and girls. Sometimes, boys and girls don’t have the same chances to use technology. This is called the “gender digital divide.”
“I’m empowered to do something!”– Lisa Brown
The Gender Digital Divide
There is a common belief that only boys should be interested in technology and computers. Unfortunately, this notion can make it difficult for girls to access the same learning opportunities. Often, girls are not given the same opportunities to learn about technology and computer-related topics as boys. This disparity is unfair because both genders should have equal access to these resources if they wish to learn and use technology.
The importance of bridging the gap
The benefits of technology are vast. With its aid, we can acquire new knowledge, connect with friends who are far away, and even find job opportunities online. When both boys and girls have access to technology, they can collaborate and accomplish incredible feats. However, when only a select few can utilize technology, it creates a disadvantage for others who are left behind.
How Can We Bridge the Gap?
- Teach Everyone About Technology:
It’s important to educate everyone about technology, regardless of age or gender. Schools and adults can play a crucial role in teaching boys and girls about computers and the Internet. By doing so, we can ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to learn and use technology. When both boys and girls are proficient in technology, they can collaborate and achieve amazing things.
- Tell Everyone It’s Okay:
It’s a common misconception that only boys should be interested in technology. This is not true, and it’s important to spread the message that both boys and girls can enjoy and excel in technology. We need to encourage everyone to learn and use technology, regardless of their gender.
- Ask for Fair Rules:
Leaders and policymakers can make a significant impact by implementing fair rules that ensure equal opportunities for both boys and girls in technology. This means creating policies that enable girls to acquire computer skills and have the same career prospects as boys in technology. Fair rules can help bridge the gender gap and create a better future for everyone…
Driving change in the digital space
In the Asia-Pacific region, UNDP-supported initiative Extreme Lives uses digital technology to challenge gender stereotypes and promote gender empowerment. The video series shares young girls’ perspectives and experiences in dealing with hate speech, marginalization, and inequalities.
Implemented by UNDP and supported by the European Union, the project uses the power of personal testimonies to drive change in the digital space. Artificial Intelligence and behavioral insights methodologies are used to target multiple audiences and gamified formats stimulate stronger audience engagement.
“Extreme Lives extracts first-time insights and looks at behaviors to better inform preventive actions to mitigate the insurgence and spread of violent extremism in South Asia.”Enrico Gaveglia, UNDP Resident Representative in the Maldives
App tackling gender-based violence
Different approaches are needed to tackle the root causes of gender inequalities. In fragile settings and crisis contexts, two in three women experience different forms of gender-based violence.
In Iraq, Armenia and Georgia the digital application SafeYOU is helping to keep women safe. With just one click of the SOS button, women in imminent danger can immediately alert emergency contacts with an SMS message. The application also records its surrounding sounds to generate potential evidence against an aggressor.
60,000 women are already using the platform. Since 2020, over 14,000 women have reported cases of violence and approximately 8,000 have used its networks of psychologists, lawyers and healthcare workers. Artificial intelligence is used by the app to generate data that can inform policies.
With a click of the SOS button on the SafeYOU app, women in imminent danger can immediately alert emergency contacts with a SMS message.
“Analyzing the patterns can help us understand who is at the highest and lowest risk of being abused among our users, and how can we make sure that we prevent these cases”, said Mariam Torosyan, founder of SafeYOU.
SafeYOU is part of UNDP’s BOOST Women Innovators Programme in Europe and Central Asia.
Digital apps are also keeping women safer in Yemen. Gender-based violence against women and girls in the country has increased by 63 percent since conflict began in 2015. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the issue. To address this, UNDP launched, in partnership with the Government of Japan, a mobile app that maps protection and aid services for gender-based violence survivors.
To provide more targeted support, the app can be refined by geographic area and divides services into several categories including livelihoods, education, psycho-social, legal services, food, and healthcare.
Closing the Gap for a Brighter Future
Imagine a world where technology is accessible to all, with equal opportunities for everyone. In such a world, boys and girls can join forces to innovate, tackle challenges, and make positive contributions to society. However, creating such a world requires collective effort.
By educating both genders about technology, promoting its use by all, and advocating for fair rules, we can bridge the digital divide. This way, no one is left behind, and everyone has an equal chance to succeed.
Let’s embrace technology as a tool for all, regardless of gender. When we all learn and use technology, we can create a brighter future where everyone has equal opportunities. Together, let’s build a world where everyone can cross the finish line together.