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The World Wide Web Foundation’s new initiative to empower women and girls in ICT

Gabe Trodd · August 20, 2014

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The World Wide Web Foundation is pleased to announce a new initiative in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) aimed at empowering women and girls in ICT.  The project, “Empowering Women through the Web,” will aim to secure political and public policy commitments to closing the gender digital divide and achieve greater gender equality in ICT and broadband access and use.

Access to Web-enabled ICTs is fast becoming a critical determinant of earning power, social capital and social mobility.  Despite the surge in mobile phone use and the advance of the information society across the world, including in much of the developing world and particularly in urban centers, women and girls continue to be excluded. The gender gap means that 200 million fewer women than men are presently online – equivalent to the entire population of Brazil, the world’s fifth most populous country. Studies suggest a 25% gap in Internet use between men and women across low- and middle-income countries. The gap increases to 40% in the case of sub-Saharan Africa. Research also indicates that globally, women’s chances to benefit from the advantages of the information society are one third less than men’s.

Equal access to ICTs would help to level the playing field for women. Better access to jobs, greater participation in the democratic process and enhanced access to information about gender rights would be achieved if we could close this gap. The project will survey women around the world in countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America to produce evidence-based primary research quantifying the gender digital gap and highlighting key issues and challenges. Work will take place in countries including Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mozambique, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Colombia.

Countries to be included in ‘Empowering Women Through the Web’.

Primary research on the ICT gender gap will include data on women’s access to and use of Web-enabled ICTs and the extent to which web-enabled ICTs have made a noticeable impact on the ability of women and girls to claim and demand their rights. The project will also leverage findings from the World Wide Web Foundation’s annual Web Index, which measures the effectiveness of the Web and its utility and significance as related to access, affordability, freedom, openness and gender equity in 86 countries.

Using fresh insights, the initiative will inform the integration of gender into relevant policy areas. This will happen through capacity building and policy dialogue outreach events that will take place with government officials, parliamentarians, telecommunications and technology companies and civil society groups. Local NGOs working in gender and ICT policy will be included as vital in-country partners to lead discussions and dialogues with national Ministries. An international coalition will also be created to advocate regionally and nationally for policy solutions in order to affirm women’s full participation in society both online and offline.

What do you see as the key priorities for gender and ICT policy? Do you represent an NGO working in gender and ICT policy advocacy in Africa, Asia or Latin America? Are you a women’s rights activist? Want to get involved? Email Ingrid Brudvig at ibrudvig@webfoundation.org with your feedback.

Photo under a Creative Commons licence by Stars Foundation, DIL – 2012 Education Award Recipient: Asia – Pacific

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  1. ece

    August 21, 2014

    Hi, I am a public policy specialist at Turk Telekom with a background in PR and non-profits. I am really excited that you've launched this initiative. However, I've seen how similar projects have failed to go further than being some philanthropy on the side, i.e. some of the UN's ICT projects in Turkey, Vodafone and Cherie Blair's Connected Women and ITU's Girls in ICT day. This is why I asked what you will do differently in a tweet yesterday. Hope to hear from you soon. Best of Luck,Ece

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    1. Caro

      August 26, 2014

      Hi I'm working on a project on ICT and Women in Mexico where violence is very high. Would I like to know why the sample in Latin  America is so small and only represented by Colombia?Best wishes,Caro

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      1. Gabe Trodd

        August 29, 2014

        Hi Caro. While we would have loved to include more countries, we had to apply some criteria to selecting countries for the current phase of the project. The criteria included: Availability of data in the Web IndexDonor regional focus Inclusion of gender in ICT policy or action plansLegal environment for equal rights for women and men, Strategic multi-stakeholder partnershipsRepresentation across low and middle income countriesAvailability of national statistical data on women and ICT, and availability of secondary data.The local partner in Colombia will be involved in organising regional women and ICT policy dialogues, which other country representatives should certainly be included in. We also hope to add more countries to the project in future.

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