With the Pandemic of 2019 hitting the globe with such a heavy impact, most modes of information transfer, whether it be studies or news or information on pandemic became internet centric. On one hand this was a very good change considering its sustainability to a huge extent, however, on the other hand the woman population that don't have access to the internet or don't know how to use it faced some serious troubles navigating through life.
Data by Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) suggests that over 390 million women belonging to the low and medium earning countries are deprived of internet access even in the 21st century. Half of these women come from South Asia and amongst them, only 65% own a mobile phone. Reportedly, in India only 14.9% of women actually use the internet.
There seems to be a very less number of women having or accessing the internet across various regions. So what exactly is the reason for such inequality to exist in terms of access to technology amongst genders?
Various extensive surveys done show that in most cultures, due to their cultural beliefs women are prohibited from using phones let alone have access to the internet. Similarly, many people including women believe that the content displayed online can be dangerous and misleading for the females and hence, they are either forced or they themselves chose not to go on the internet. There’s also a faction of people that believe, today most of the technology and apps are created by focusing only on men and hence, become quite inaccessible or useless for women to use.
Nevertheless, whatever the reason be, the negative effects of this inequality is very much evident. As per a local data, in India almost 17% more men have been vaccinated than women as the registrations were mandatory in most areas. At the same time, it has been reported that in the South Asian countries women have very less information to survive the Covid-19 as most of this information was internet accessible only, since print media hit a pause in the beginning of the pandemic.
What can we do to curb this widening gap? The first step ideally would be to change the mindset. Along with this, introduction of gender inclusive technology can go a long way. Private sectors must look at this with a pragmatic attitude as they have the power to bring in the change with the help of their various applications and technology.
With the ever evolving world, the need of empowering women is also increasing at such times. It's very crucial that women keep up with the advancement in technology and access to the internet, as most jobs nowadays comprises both skills. The benefits of curbing this gap are very surprising.
According to GSMA, in closing this gender gap in the usage of technology, the GDP of the low and middle income nations can be increased by almost $700 by the year 2026. Women and girls being the consumers being left out of the technology can contribute majorly in increasing the profit.
This article has been written by Ritika Pandey for The Paradigm.
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