The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has estimated that there are over 250 million fewer women online than men.
According to the U.N. specialised agency for ICT, Internet penetration rates are higher for men than women in all regions of the world but the gap remains large in the world’s least developed countries at 31%.
Global Internet user gender gap grew from 11% in 2013 to 12% in 2016 with Africa having the largest regional gender gap at 23% and smallest in the Americas at 2%, ITU says.
In addition, there are 1.7 billion women in low- and middle-income countries who still do not own a mobile phone (GSMA, 2015), and there are fewer women in the ICT workforce at every level and in every country. The gap is especially pronounced in senior management positions.
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]To facilitate the process, ITU and UN Women have joined together to launch EQUALS- The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age, a coalition of program dedicated to women and girls in technology with a vision of harnessing the power of modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) to accelerate global progress to bridge the gender digital divide.[/quote]ITU believes that empowering girls and women with ICT skills could solve the predicted shortfall of over two million jobs in the technology sector within the next five years.
ITU and UN women are therefore striving to close this online gender gap by challenging their extensive network of private companies, civil society, governments and the UN family to step up and enable women and girls around the world to contribute to a digital renaissance, according to both organisations.
To facilitate the process, ITU and UN Women have joined together to launch EQUALS- The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age, a coalition of program dedicated to women and girls in technology with a vision of harnessing the power of modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) to accelerate global progress to bridge the gender digital divide.
According to ITU, the Global Partnership will focus on three areas of action which includes:
ACCESS – Achieve equal access to digital technologies
SKILLS – Empower women and girls with skills to become ICT creators
LEADERS – Promote women as ICT leaders and entrepreneurs
“EQUALS” will consist of a broad global partnership of like-minded programmes in the public and the private sectors with the mission to bridge the global digital gender divide. “EQUALS” will also leverage big data, measurement and evaluation to reach these ambitious, global targets, ITU says while inviting all private companies, NGOs, governments and civil society organizations to join this global movement.
Announcing the partnership, Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General says, “It’s time to make the world more equal. ICTs are an essential pathway towards gender equality and gender empowerment. So today, it is my honor to announce along with UN Women, the launch of EQUALS, the Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age. Big challenges like these require better data, just as global problems require global action.”
Also commenting on the partnership Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director UN Women.”The information society is incomplete without the inclusion, contribution and leadership of women and girls. They must have access to ICTs, and we must foster their capabilities to use the technology. This is central to the realization of women’s rights at all levels and can be a real driver of accelerated progress towards the achievement of Agenda 2030″, said