Many educators incorporate the topic of ‘Gender Equality’ into their teaching practices. Not so many of us, however, are informed about and teach the topic of ‘Digital Gender Equality’. Before I continue, I would like to express my gratitude to the Internet Governance Forum 2019 for organizing a workshop on this topic, and to the speakers from the 1 World Connected who shared this eye-opening information with us. Now let’s look at some facts:
Over 1.7 billion females don’t own mobile phones in low and middle-income countries. On average women are 14% less likely to own a mobile phone than men.
The gender gap is growing fast in developing countries – see the photo below.
There are many reasons why women face challenges when it comes to accessing and using digital devices:
Women with responsibilities for children and the elderly are less mobile.
Socio-cultural barriers – resistance from male relatives and local opinion leaders to women traveling by bicycle.
Shared mobile phones with other family members.
Privacy issues as very often women are not left alone with the digital device but rather are monitored by their male partners.
Perceived relevance of the content available.
Age – there is a big debate as to when girls can start using mobile phones. There is no such question about boys.
What can we do about it? Here are some of the approaches suggested by the speakers:
Allowing women to select the time of the day when they use mobile phones to increase the chance that their communication with the other user is successful, which in turn increases the effectiveness of communication.
Having less intervention from family members when using one device for the whole family to ensuring sustained behavior change.
Creating more local content in local languages.
Developing interventions that address multiple access barriers at the same time can increase user engagement.
Having an anonymous messaging system helps more women stay healthy and keep their families in health.
What else can we do to solve the growing gap of Digital Gender Equality?
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