On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2019, the EQUALS Global Partnership celebrates the successes of those working toward achieving gender equality around the world. As a focused part of the gender equality movement, our 90 partners have united to strive towards a future where women and girls can enjoy full equality in the world of digital technology.
Despite many efforts, the gender digital divide persists. It is a continuing global issue that keeps women and girls from enjoying the benefits of technology, and it is a multifaceted problem. In every country, in each community, in every workplace, women and girls face obstacles in digital equality. But for each individual, community and country, the obstacles differ—whether related to barriers to accessing and using the internet; inability to gain critical skills needed to use digital technology; lack of funding for women-founded tech businesses; or gender discrimination in leadership positions in the tech sector.
This year, UN Women (an EQUALS co-founder) declared a theme for International Women’s Day that reflects the very heart of what our partnership works toward: Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.
Think equal: EQUALS Partners share a vision for a fairer and more equal society and are demonstrating their commitment to this vision through contributions of organizational resources, advocacy efforts, and insights informed by their respective fields of work – all aligned within a framework of goals, working group objectives, and concrete commitments. Today, our Skills Coalition is announcing the launch of a new Policy Brief to help shape the future of gender digital equality.
Build smart: Addressing the gender digital divide requires action by many different stakeholders working together. To address issues of inequality in digital access, skills and leadership opportunities, we need the involvement of governments; intergovernmental agencies concerned with ICTs and development; businesses involved in the digital sector; technical experts in ICTs, gender, development and statistical analysis; the women and men who are directly concerned, and the civil society organizations that support them. Cooperation is crucial to building structures and policies that can bring a brighter digital future for women and girls.
Innovate for change: Efforts toward gender digital equality are thwarted by the limited availability and reliability of data on women’s access and use of digital technologies, especially in low and middle-income countries and in different local contexts. There are also insufficient estimates of women’s participation in STEM subjects and careers and in leadership positions and entrepreneurship ventures in the digital sector. Openly accessible gender-disaggregated data that is comparable across countries and across time is the first step towards addressing digital equality and promoting a stronger focus on women across different areas.
This month, the EQUALS Partnership is publishing two essential reports:
The EQUALS Skills Coalition is launching a digital skills policy brief on 8 March accompanied by two thought-provoking analyses focused on AI and the ICT gender equality paradox.
The EQUALS Research Group is publishing its inaugural report on 15 March to promote a better understanding of how women and girls engage with digital technologies and to help inform policy and strategy development to close the digital gender gap.
Joining the world in celebrating International Women’s Day, EQUALS partners agree that the gender digital divide will only be bridged through united action and cooperation between diverse stakeholders.
“As a multi-stakeholder partnership, EQUALS brings together the best thinking from all sectors—governments, NGOs, academia and private companies—to make a real difference to the digital future for everyone. We must redouble our efforts to bring digital access, skills and opportunities to all.”
Doreen Bogdan-Martin, EQUALS co-founder and formal Chair
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