To achieve gender equality, girls and young women need equal access to technology and digital training. Instead of being another barrier, technology and the internet can be a great enabler for all girls and women.
What are the benefits of digital empowerment?
Digital literacy is becoming almost as important as traditional literacy.
Over 90% of jobs worldwide already have a digital component according to the ITU, and most jobs will soon require sophisticated digital skills. If governments equip girls with digital and ICT skills through prioritising education in ICT subjects, they will help ensure girls thrive in economies where routine work has been automated and digital and creative skills are prized.
Technology can also be a powerful tool for girls to become leaders and agents of change, allowing them to organise more efficiently and galvanise action for common causes, such as standing up against gender-based violence.
How does the digital divide hold back girls and women?
Women and girls continue to face a technology gap that prevents them from accessing, using and creating digital tools at the same level as boys and men.
Without equal access to technology and the internet, it is challenging for girls and women to be able to participate in our ever more digital societies and the global community on an equal basis. Holding back girls and women in this area affects every aspect of their lives. Moreover, if girls and women are not involved in creating digital tools and solutions, these will be created for them and they will be unlikely to reflect girls’ and women’s needs, wants, and rights.
The gender technology gap also negatively impacts countries’ potential for economic growth and development. According to Intel, if 600 million women were connected to the internet in 3 years, this would translate to a rise in global GDP of between US$13 billion and US$18 billion.
Where are the biggest gender technology gaps?
The gender divide in access to the internet remains large in the world’s least developed countries, at 32.9%. In 2017, the regional internet gap was largest in Africa (25.3%) and smallest in the Americas (-2.6%).
Regarding mobile phone ownership, the digital divide is most pronounced in South Asia, where women are 26% less likely to own a mobile phone than men.
What are the key barriers to overcoming digital inequality?
Education unlocks access to digital tools and skills
School is often the place where many children are introduced to technology such as laptops and tablets. If girls are not in school, they are missing out on opportunities to become familiar with technologies and learning basic ICT skills that will be invaluable for them in the labour market. Two-thirds of the world’s over 700 million illiterate adults are women. Illiteracy is a huge barrier for girls’ and women’s ability to take advantage of technology and full functionality of their devices, such as mobile phones, even when these devices are available to them.
Plan International works to ensure that girls and women have equal access to learning relevant technical skills and digital literacy in school and through training programs to be able to take advantage of technology and digital tools.
How is Plan International bridging the digital divide?
Plan International’s Global Strategy states that “we must harness the power of technology and use innovative solutions to extend our reach and impact. We must focus on the rights of girls, who are most vulnerable to being left behind as the world around us changes.”
It is our responsibility to ensure that instead of being yet another barrier, technology and the internet actually becomes an enabler for girls and women.
Report: Digital Empowerment of Girls
Despite accumulated efforts of the past 20 years, today's women and girls still face barriers to digital tools and careers.
Our latest report provides recommendations for closing the digital gender gap that will enable girls to participate in and contribute to our increasingly digital future.
In South Asia, women are 26% less likely to own a mobile phone than men.
Girls are 5 times less likely to consider a career in tech.
Over 90% of jobs already have a digital component. Girls must have education, access and opportunities to create digital technology.
If 600 million additional women were connected to the internet, in 3 years it would translate to a $13-18bn rise in global GDP.
There are 184 million fewer women than men with a phone.