Saturday , November 27 2021

Digital Technologies, Path to ‘Generation Equality’ – ITU

To commemorate the year 2020 International Women’s Day (IWD), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has said embracing digital technologies is the only solution to erasing gender inequality in the society.

Themed “Each for Equal”, the body posited that the path to generation equality lies in leveraging the power of digital technologies.

According to the Director of ITU ’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Doreen Bogdan-Martin digital technologies represent the most powerful opportunity humanity has ever had to finally overturn the many barriers to women’s social and economic inclusion.

Bogdan-Martin noted that to promote healthy gender equality, women need three things to leverage on the potentials power of technology.

“But to leverage the power of that technology, we need three things. We need to ensure that women have access to digital devices and platforms.

“We need to ensure that they are empowered with the digital skills to use that technology to improve their lives. And we need to ensure that they have the chance to share equally in employment and leadership opportunities in the world’s fastest-growing sector”, he said.

Speaking further, Bogdan-Martin explained ITU figures show that 53% of the global population now has some form of access to the internet. While, over 90% of the global population lives within reach of a mobile broadband signal, yet online access is not shared equally.

He highlighted that out if the 3.6 billion people still totally unconnected, 58% are women.

“We’re battling a widespread digital gender divide, with more men than women online in every region of the world except the Americas. In sub-Saharan Africa, where women’s access could arguably have the most powerful transformative effect, the proportion of women using the internet is a full 25% lower than then proportion of men – and the gap is growing.

“And new figures on mobile connectivity just in from the GSMA show that globally, 165 million fewer women than men own a mobile phone, with a gender gap of 51% in south Asia and 37% in sub-Saharan Africa”, he bemoaned.

Furthermore, he decried the fact that women and girls still lag behind in the vital area of digital skills.

According to him, lack of basic digital literacy is increasingly emerging as a leading barrier to internet use in LDCs, with poor digital skills often correlated to the lower educational opportunities afforded girls and women.

“At higher skills levels, the situation is almost as bleak. Figures show a steady decline in the number of women and girls choosing to study technology-related fields since computing and IT engineering degrees first began to be offered in the early 1980s.

“That means that while demand for ICT professionals continues to mushroom, women are being left out of the employment boom. While advanced digital skills are in high demand – particularly in areas like mobile apps, cloud computing, big data, and data security, the OECD reports that just 1.4% of female workers have jobs developing, maintaining, or operating ICT systems, compared to 5.5% of male workers. With chronically stagnating female participation in STEM education, that gap seems sure to grow.

“Clearly, in all three key areas – access; skills; and tech jobs and leadership – a great deal remains to be done. And as we embark on this Decade of Action, our work has never been so urgent, because digital technologies will be absolutely critical to making real and rapid progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

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“If it’s true that there will be ‘no SDGs without ICTs’, it is equally true that there will be no global development progress that is not built on real and tangible progress towards gender equality. The sooner governments and the tech industry make that leap, the sooner we’ll bring about the change we want. Let us all commit, on this International Women’s Day 2020, to being the change we want to see”, ITU stated.

About Bukola Olanrewaju

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