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.
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 email@example.com with your feedback.
Photo under a Creative Commons licence by Stars Foundation, DIL – 2012 Education Award Recipient: Asia – Pacific