Access and safety are key to engaging the next generation of girls in information and communication technologies (ICTs), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) underlined on the day International Girls in ICT.
According to the latest data from the ITU, 57% of women use the Internet worldwide, compared to 62% of men. And globally, only 30% of science and technology professionals are women.
If women cannot access the internet and feel safe online, they are therefore unable to develop the necessary digital skills and engage in digital spaces, the IUT said in a statement. This reduces their chances of pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related fields.
ITU emphasizes the need to ensure that girls and women have equal access to digital learning opportunities, especially in least developed countries.© UNICEF/Frank DejonghGirls at a school in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, use a tablet during a lesson.
Be connected and safe
“All over the world, girls and young women want to join the digital revolution,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “When we remove barriers to access and security, women and girls can make remarkable contributions to ICTs. To put it simply: tech needs girls, and girls need tech.”
Yet girls are accessing digital technology at a later age than boys, and their use of this technology is more often restricted by their parents, finds a study by UN Women and ITU.
In addition, young women and girls are disproportionately exposed to online violence and harassment, “which can negatively impact their physical, mental and emotional well-being, and influence how they access and use digital tools for the rest of their lives,” UN Women said.
Figures from the ITU show that among more than 100 girls surveyed worldwide, less than one in ten girls feel fully equipped to stay safe online.
“This is unacceptable,” said the Director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Doreen Bogdan-Martin. “Women and girls will never have the full and free digital access that allows them to harness technology to change their lives – and the world – if they don’t feel safe online.”
“Every girl has the right to be connected and safe, and to play her part in shaping a more equal, greener and more technology-driven future,” UN Women said in its statement to the occasion of the day.
To this end, the UN Secretary-General has called for a global digital pact to improve digital cooperation.© UNICEF/UN014974/EsteySocial media has a huge influence on children’s lives and being constantly connected to the internet also carries many risks, including sexual exploitation of adolescents and children online.
Growing global participation
Girls’ access and engagement in ICT and STEM is more critical than ever. Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic and multiple crises in countries around the world have created repeated challenges for young women and girls to learn, succeed and connect.
These situations have heightened the importance of technology as a solution for young women and girls to access essential services and information, communicate in school, stay in touch with friends and loved ones, and as an essential aspect of their autonomy and prospects.
For the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, “it is imperative that we recognize and support their efforts”. “It is also essential to empower more women to harness the potential of digital technologies. Now that we are looking to recover better from Covid-19, we can no longer afford to ignore or neglect to harness the talents of half the world’s population,” he said.Photo: UTI/G. AndersonPeople surfing the internet on their laptops
Our world has never been so digital
“The leadership and participation of young women and girls is at the heart of all these efforts”, says UN Women, calling on the occasion of the International Day of Girls in ICT, “to work together to prioritize girls’ access to technology, and to ensure meaningful connectivity in a safe and empowering environment”.
“We must inspire women and girls to become designers, creators and leaders in this rapidly evolving field, to build a gender-equitable digital future that meets everyone’s needs,” said indicated Doreen Bogdan-Martin. “I want our 193 Member States, our sister United Nations agencies, our private sector partners and our civil society community to come together to engage in more effective actions to protect all users against attacks and online threats.
On this Girls in ICT Day, she called for working together to ensure that “every girl and woman, everywhere, has the opportunity to use digital technologies to thrive, achieve their dreams and give the best of themselves”.
“We can empower a new generation of women who will thrive in the digital sphere – as innovators, entrepreneurs and knowledge seekers – and who will build on the contributions of their predecessors to advance humanity. towards a brighter, more hopeful and more equal destiny between the sexes”, concluded the President of the General Assembly.