Countries around the world have agreed to work toward achieving universal, affordable internet access by 2020 as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. However, right now we’re on track to miss this goal by decades. With the rate of people coming online slowing down, we’re unlikely to achieve universal access until after 2050.
With huge technological advances around the corner — from 5G to artificial intelligence and beyond — there are exciting opportunities to solve some of our biggest challenges. However, until we reach universal access, billions of people will miss out on these benefits.
We must tackle the digital gender gap
Given the persistent digital gender gap, any policy aimed at increasing the world’s online population will fail — unless the unique barriers to connectivity faced by women and girls, including affordability, digital skills, and cultural and social norms, are addressed.
What steps must policymakers take to address these barriers and ensure equality of access?
This is the question A4AI Director Sonia Jorge and Strategic Partnerships Manager Maiko Nakagaki tackle in their contribution to a new report launched this week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Their chapter urges stakeholders to develop gender-responsive policies to expand internet access, using the Web Foundation’s REACT policy framework.
Without collaborative, gender-responsive action from policymakers, the 2020 goal will drift further into the future and we’ll continue to fall short of the potential new technology offers.
Read, Is Universal, Affordable Internet Just an Ambitious Goal? Overcoming the Digital Gender Gap, to explore Sonia and Maiko’s recommendations in full. For further insight, watch Maiko’s appearance on a panel at the report launch.
Beyond Technology: The Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Developing World is available to download from the CSIS website.
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Follow Sonia on Twitter at @SoniaA4AI. Follow Maiko at @mn1207.
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