Bridging the Gender Digital Divide
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova opened the Working Group on the Gender Digital Divide of the Broadband Commission on Sustainable Development on 17 September, focusing attention on the online gender gap. “New opportunities must be available to all, to empower all, for the benefit of all, especially girls and women,” Ms. Bokova said.
She noted that trends were increasingly worrying in this respect. Worldwide, there is a gender gap of 11 percent in male and female access to the Internet. This rises to almost 29 percent in Least Developed Countries. There are some 200 million fewer women than men owning a mobile phone, the most prevalent means of access to the Internet in developing countries.
“To overcome these obstacles, we need greater investment in access,” said Ms. Bokova. “But this must be joined with stronger investment in quality education, in digital skills, in media literacy.”
She underlined the importance of such actions, notably to support and advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – specifically the Sustainable Development Goal 5 on promoting gender equality, and Target 9c on advancing universal access to information and communication technologies.
The meeting was co-chaired with Mr. Mats Granryd, Director-General of GSMA, an organization which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide.
Mr. Granryd said the recommendations for the Broadband Commission need to be complemented by action plans for follow-up.
The meeting was held at the offices of UN Women in New York.
Director-General Bokova is co-vice chair of the Broadband Commission, which she launched in 2010, with co-chairs, H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and Mr Carlos Slim, CEO of the Carlos Slim Foundation, along with co-vice chair, Mr Haolin Zhou, Secretary-General of the ITU. The Broadband Commission brings together high level officials with leading executives in the private sector, from across the world, to harness the digital revolution as a development revolution, for all women and men.
This Working Group builds on the earlier work of the Working Group on Broadband and Gender and the 2013 Report – Doubling Digital Opportunities.
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