The digital gender divide refers to the disproportionate lack of access, skills and representation of women and girls in technology. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 12% fewer women use the internet as compared to men; this gap widens further to 33% in Least Developed Countries across the world. Low-income women and girls are challenged by an even deeper divide, when compounding both their gender and socio-economic status. Research shows that making Information Communications Technology (ICT), such as smartphones, tablets and e-books, equally accessible to women and girls can be instrumental in closing gender gaps by helping them gain knowledge, confidence, and opportunities.
Bridging the Divide
As part of Pro Mujer’s work to improve the lives of low-income women and girls in Latin America, we are addressing this digital gender divide by focusing on both digital literacy and connectivity. We are further exploring solutions to provide an entry point for underserved women into the formal and digital economies, while addressing barriers, such as time, cost and connectivity.
In this pursuit, Pro Mujer has joined the EQUALS Global Partnership, a growing global network partnership working to bridge the divide of women and girls and technology. The objective is to unite with organizations across the globe pushing the needle forward on gender equality, including closing the digital gender gap. Through the Partnership, organizations can learn from each other and generate new ideas to tackle this complex issue.
Pro Mujer and EQUALS Global Partnership met on September 22, 2018 at its annual principals’ meeting at the Yale Club in New York City. The meeting brought together influential EQUALS partners representing leading private sector companies, universities, United Nations organizations and government agencies.
“We come together with a common vision that women and girls can be equals in tech.”
–Doreen Bogdan-Martin, EQUALS Steering Committee Co-Chair & Co-Founder of EQUALS
At the annual meeting, the three EQUALS Coalitions – Access, Skills and Leadership – together with the EQUALS Research Group, established their goals for 2019 designed to support worldwide efforts to achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.
Each Coalition has a specific area of focus:
- Access Coalition: Giving greater access to the internet to girls and women in select countries.
- Skills Coalition: Educating and training women and girls in digital skills, led by policy-makers and practitioners.
- Leadership Coalition:1) Connecting female tech entrepreneurs with investors and mentors through networking opportunities and advocacy events; and 2) Ensuring women-led technology-oriented firms have information, training programs and tools to successfully create and lead a business.
- Research Group:1) Tracking and publicly sharing internationally comparable gender-disaggregated data, and 2) Ensuring policy-makers are using reliable metrics and indicators to create evidence-informed policy.
EQUALS and Pro Mujer Commitments
While the Coalitions offer a vision of what can be achieved together, each EQUALS partner also affirms its EQUALS Commitments for specific, measurable action.
At Pro Mujer, we have committed to 1) provide 2,000 digital literacy trainings for women micro-entrepreneurs, youth and Pro Mujer staff in Bolivia by 2020, and 2) hold a digital celebration for 1,000 young women and girls during the 2019 International Girls in ICT Day in Argentina, Peru, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Mexico, including a hands-on workshop in Guatemala.
Pro Mujer also brings our unique experience and expertise in implementing transformative programs for women for nearly 30 years. This allows us to complement the knowledge that researchers, academics and policy analysts from across the world bring to the Partnership by offering a perspective of the realities and challenges that come with implementing initiatives from the ground up.
A Look at EQUALS in 2018
- The Access Coalition, led by GSMA, presented a complete framework for reducing the gender gap in Internet access and use, including a valuable case study from Rwanda to demonstrate successful strategies.
- The Skills Coalition, led by GIZ and UNESCO, launched the new EQUALS Digital Skills Fund. The fund provides small grants to women-led movements and organizations in developing countries to implement digital skills training. The World Wide Web Foundation will be administering the fund.
- The Leadership Coalition, led by the International Trade Centre and UN Women, developed a framework for crowdsourced e-learning course content to facilitate women’s professional and entrepreneurial opportunities in the tech sector.
- The Research Group, led by the United Nations University, released its report Taking Stock: Data and Evidence on Gender Equality in Digital Access, Skills and Leadership, a preliminary summary of data and theoretical perspectives on a path to gender equality in the digital age.
“The work EQUALS is doing is urgently needed to contribute better evidence and policies to ensure that no one, especially women and girls, are left behind in the digital revolution. We can make a difference, but we need all hands on deck to build better digital outcomes for everyone.”
— Gabriela Ramos, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20.
The EQUALS in Tech Awards
As part of its initiatives, each year EQUALS also recognizes the innovation and creativity of global initiatives promoting the inclusion of women and girls in the tech sector and in internet access. This year, out of 357 submissions from around the globe, five initiatives were awarded, including Laboratoria, a Latin American company, which supports thousands of women in the region build a career in technology.
Winners of the EQUALS in Tech Awards:
In entering 2019, the EQUALS Global Partnership continues to provide a central networking hub for organizations, corporations and governments that are ready to drive evidence-based actions to ensure that women and girls have access to digital technology, the skills to succeed in an increasingly online world, and opportunities to shape the digital future.
Pro Mujer is thrilled to join this growing partnership of multi-sectoral entities that will help shape and drive the digital skills programming for women and girls throughout Latin America, and across the globe.