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Bridging the digital literacy gap for girls in Indonesia

Web Foundation · August 15, 2018

This post was originally published by the Open Data Lab Jakarta.

In July, the Open Data Lab held a workshop, “Starting them Young”, for girls to help build their digital literacy skills and use these to tackle social issues.

Understanding the problem of the digital divide

Indonesia is one of the largest and most populous countries in the world; it is also the fastest growing country in terms of internet use. However, with a stubborn digital gender gap, using and benefitting from the web is not yet a privilege enjoyed by everyone.

For example, according to the World Wide Web Foundation’s Women’s Rights Online report, only 20% of women have access to the internet across Indonesia, of which only 5% use it express their views and 26% to find critical information about their rights. And with only 52% of the country’s secondary schools connected to the web, many young women face tremendous barriers to access.

In local communities, some youth education centres provide access to computers and the internet, though there is a lack of widespread and supported ICT education in the country. Making matters worse, the Indonesian government has removed IT education from school curricula. Additionally, most efforts to increase digital education are “voluntary, incidental, and sporadic”, conducted mainly by universities, and benefitting mostly teens and university students.

We know that:

  • There is strong interest from young people to learn more about digital ICT.
  • The uncoordinated programmes that exist are not sufficient to fill the substantial digital education gap.
  • There is a need to address the digital gender gap – especially in IT education – in order to promote women’s empowerment. This requires investing early on in their formative education.

Bridging the gap to empower girls through ICT

The Jakarta Lab partnered with Goethe-Institut Indonesien and PASCH on a project designed to strengthen girls’ and young women’s digital literacy skills and teach them how to combat gender-based violence online.

In July, we held our “Starting Them Young” workshop and public forum with 22 female students, to build up their skills in understanding, analysing, and visualising open data so they can better advocate for issues close to their hearts.

Building the foundations of digital literacy

At the event, participants discussed social issues such as how digital media has changed our world, the importance of digital literacy for women, and challenges around data collection, privacy and cyberbullying. Key takeaways included the need for digital literacy for individuals to identify the reliability of online sources and to combat fake news, hoaxes, and online discrimination, as well as to understand what “consent” means when using online platforms and services.

The role of digital literacy in governance was also discussed, with Novi Wahyuningsih from the President’s Office (KSP) introducing Satu Data Indonesia, and Dwi Febri from Banda Aceh explaining the differences between information and data, different types of data, and how to find and use open data. The girls also learned about data visualisation from Moerat Sitompul from Tempo.

Using skills they learned at the workshop, the participants produced several posters and infographics, shown below, illustrating social issues using government data available online.

Taking steps toward digital literacy

We believe that to better address the digital gender gap, we need to start building the digital literacy of girls (and boys) early on — for example, by incorporating it back into the school curriculum and teaching students to become responsible and knowledgeable about data, digital media, and their impact. National-scale change won’t happen quickly, so in the meantime, others must undertake programs that build skills of girls and women, such as the “Starting Them Young” workshop. At the Jakarta Lab, this is definitely something we’re keen to keep on doing.



For more news from the Open Data Lab, follow @ODLabJkt on Twitter and check the blog for regular updates.

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