Empowering women and girls to play an active role in the digital world is key to giving them the power to shape their own futures and influence change in their communities.
COVID-19 has shifted many of our lives online, it is also shining a light on the digital gender divide. As we reach the end of 2020, we are focusing on working with our local partner to break down the digital gender divide and give women and girls access to the technology and data they need to participate fully in our online world.
The digital gender gap exists in all regions of the world, and continues to grow. No society is immune. It is therefore more important than ever that we ensure women and girls are connected, and have the digital skills they need to thrive.
Of the 3.6 billion unconnected people in the world, a disproportionate percentage are women and girls. As a global average, 52% of women are offline, compared with 42% of men. This figure is much lower in the world’s poorest nations, where women’s access to technology is much more limited. The global online shift makes women and girl’s digital exclusion ever more alarming.
What is the impact of the digital gender divide?
Digital exclusion is a global issue which negatively affects women and girls everywhere. It impacts many areas of women and girls’ lives. It limits their access to information and education, as well as opportunities to equally participate in our increasingly digital world.
Across WONDER’s partner programmes, technology and internet access has made it harder for many women and girls to follow classes during the pandemic. One teacher from Wavecrest College of Hospitality in Nigeria, Ifeoma, told us:
“My biggest challenge in teaching online has been teaching students who do not have the resources: students who don’t have phones that support apps for learning, or have no phone, talk less of a laptop, nor data to sign into class, or lack internet connectivity”.
Ifeoma, Wavecrest College of Hospitality, Nigeria
Because of inaccessibility to digital tools some women and girls may never catch up on their education and will continue to feel the effect of this gap long after the pandemic is over.
What are the benefits of digital access for women and girls?
Bridging the digital gender divide is essential in ensuring women and girls can fully participate in our increasingly digital future. Giving women and girls access to digital resources and equipping them with the skills to use them will ensure that they have the power to shape their own futures and influence change in their communities.
Rose, a student at the Banilad School for Professional Development in the Philippines, is currently studying from home. She told us about the importance of having digital access during COVID-19:
“I’m enjoying exploring this new field of learning. I’m so much thankful for the people who gave us the chance to continue chasing our dreams despite this pandemic.”
Amanda, who is currently studying Hospitality Management at Wavecrest College of Hospitality, has also felt the benefits of this digital access, stating that having digital skills as women “helps us to stand out from every other person, and makes us more valuable in society”.
Students from Banilad School for Professional Development, Philippines, studying from home
Having digital access means that the women and girls in our partner programmes won’t fall behind on their education during the pandemic. Being digitally literate also means they will have better employment opportunities and future career prospects.
How is WONDER working to bridge the digital gap?
We are working alongside our local partners to bridge this digital divide, and give women and girls the tools to thrive in a digital world. We strive to build a future in which women and girls have the tools and the power to shape their own futures and influence change in their communities.
Our focus during the pandemic has been supporting our partners in giving their students and staff access to the technology and data they need to continue teaching and learning. But, we know that ensuring connectivity is only the first of many steps. We are also working with our local partners to give the students and staff in their programmes access to resources and training to become digitally literate.
If you would like to support WONDER in breaking down the digital gender divide and give women and girls access to the technology and data they need to thrive, please make a donation. A donation of £25 can cover the monthly cost of internet data for 25 young women in Nigeria. No matter how big or small, your contribution will help make a difference to the lives of women and girls around the world.