International Day of the Girl 2021 – Celebrating Generation Equality
Sept 12, 2021
“Girls know their digital realities and the solutions they need to pave paths to freedom of expression, joy and boundless potential. Together, let’s widen these pathways under the International Day of the Girl 2021 theme: Digital Generation. Our Generation.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for accelerating the growth in adoption of digital technologies for learning, connecting, and doing business. Many public schools converted to virtual learning. Friends and family relied on virtual communication to stay connected. Growth in video conferencing technologies like Zoom exploded. Many businesses have fully transitioned to hybrid or fully-remote working models. Though where we are at seemed inevitable, we did not expect to be there so soon.
Additionally, though not generally addressed when talking about this recent transformation in the way we work and play, this surge in digital technology use underscores a significant and growing gender digital divide within the digital generation.
According to data collected by UNICEF,
There is a growing internet use gender gap
(11% in 2013 v. 17% in 2019) with a gap of 43% in the world’s least developed countries.
2.2 billion people under the age of 25 have no access to the internet at home,
with girls more likely to be cut off.
Globally, the percentage of females among STEM graduates is below 15%
in over two-thirds of countries.
In middle and higher-income countries, only 14% of girls
who were top performers in science or mathematics expected to work in the feild compared to 26% of top-performing boys.
Only 22% of Artificial Intelligence professionals globally are women,
a massive gender digital divide in who is currently designing the algorithms that will impact all of our lives.
The lack of gender parity in access to and participation in the technologies driving global policy, communication, information, and relationships is concerning to say the least.
Five Year Commitments of Generation Equality Forum
Generation Equality is a campaign promoted by UN Women to accelerate gender equality actions. In June of this year, the Generation Equality Forum was held in Paris and launched a five-year commitment to aggressively accelerate the timeline to achieve international gender equality.
The commitment is based around six pillars:
- gender-based violence
- economic justice and rights
- bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights
- feminist action for climate justice
- technology and innovation for gender equality
- feminist movements and leadership.
It is the fifth pillar of Generation Equality campaign’s commitments that is a focus of this years’ International Day of the Girl, which will be observed October 11, 2021, and the international community has set some bold objectives to achieve by 2026, including:
- Reducing by half the gender digital divide across generations by accelerating meaningful access to digital technologies and universal digital literacy.
- Increasing investments towards feminist technology and innovation by 50% to support women’s leadership as innovators and better response to women and girls’ most pressing needs.
- Doubling the proportion of women working in technology and innovation by setting up new networks and benchmarks to transform innovation ecosystems.
- A majority of countries and tech companies demonstrating accountability by implementing policies and solutions against online and tech facilitated gender-based violence and discrimination.
Solutions To Gender Digital Divide
Though achievable, the magnitude of these goals and the numerous international commitments made to help achieve the goals and provide solutions to reduce the digital gender divide can seem overwhelming. It makes it difficult to see how anyone can have a voice and participate without committing to it full time. However, each of us has the power to do something. Anyone can raise awareness by sharing this blog and other information found in these links. Anyone can look for opportunities in our local communities and trusted organizations.
Role of Asante Africa to Help Girls & Close the Digital Gender Gap
We don’t quite have the reach of UNICEF, but Asante Africa Foundation has been championing the effort to close the digital gender gap in its own way since 2012 by bringing digital resources and materials into classrooms in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. These resources go to support teachers’ curriculum development and after-school clubs with digital content. Providing teachers and students with access to digital tools has been critical to increasing youth engagement and success. This includes providing digital smart kits, which contain a laptop, projector, and a Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education aka RACHEL Plus.
RACHEL is a battery powered digital device that provides access to online learning content (e.g. Khan Academy, MIT Scratch, and Wikipedia are a few of the many content providers) in an off-line format. RACHEL is easy to deploy and connect to any local digital device using its own wifi signal. As a result, when combined with a tablet, smartphone, or other device, youth with no access to the internet can still access modern digital learning tools and content.
International Day of the Girl & Generation Equality isn’t just about achieving statistical parity in using and creating digital technologies – though that is a way to measure progress, it is about finding solutions to the gender digital divide and ensuring that women are positioned to be equal participants in all aspects of life. Through equal participation, we build generation equality. Through bold action, we can widen the pathways for girls to gain full participation and achieve their full potential.