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The importance of women-led digital solutions

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Social Justice – Welfare of vulnerable sections

 

Source: The Hindu, Live Mint

Context: The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality.

 

Data on Digital Disparity:

  • According to a UNICEF report, as many as 90% of the jobs in the world today have a digital component. These jobs, however, are available only to the digitally able, and to more men than women.
  • According to the report, in developing countries, only 41% of women have access to the internet compared with 53% of men.
    • Women are 20% less likely to own a smartphone and are more likely to borrow phones from a male family member.
  • Another report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development revealed that the gender gap in internet use is widening. Software development remains a male-dominated field, with women comprising only 15% of software designers.

 

Examples of how digital literacy helps in tackling issues:

  • The FoSafMDM application by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with the Governments of Odisha and Rajasthan has rolled out technology-based training modules
  • This helps in strengthening the capacity of the community in ensuring that proper hygiene and safety measures are followed so that children reap the full benefits of the nutrition that these school meals offer.
  • Young women known as ‘Digital Sakhis’ from Madhya Pradesh are upturning discriminatory social norms through the use of smartphones.

 

Indian situation:

  • India accounts for half the world’s gendered digital divide given that only a third of all Internet users in the country are women.
  • In Asia-Pacific, India has the widest gender gap of 40%. Less than 32% of women in India own a mobile phone compared to over 60% of men.

 

Conclusion:

  • Women can harness digital tools for improving nutrition schemes and initiatives, while also using them to create economic opportunities that ensure long-term food and nutrition security.
  • Women20—the G20’s official engagement platform to promote gender equity—identifies “bridging the gender digital divide” as one of its five priorities that need to be mainstreamed as part of the G20 agenda this year.

 

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Consequences of the growing digital divide