One of the limitations of a “healthy” gender equality is digital accessibility. The last report coming from ITU concludes that 64% of countries have more men online than women and that the digital gender divide is growing.
It may seem surprising if we see it from a perspective of the relentless advance of digital connectivity and the promising path towards an Artificial Intelligence world, however, women are not inserted equally as men. The world is moving forward globally but not under inclusive criteria.
The global model works precisely because of the standardisation delivered by technology, it supposes more integration of people on an equal basis, however, it turns to become an inaccessible resource for many people in the world, particularly women.
The digital economy is key for the future decades, but, “affordability and lack of digital skills” are main barriers. Once again we realize the importance of Education in all areas including the digital.
“ITU data confirm that Internet use continues to grow globally, with 4.1 billion people now using the Internet, or 53.6% of the global population. However, an estimated 3.6 billion people remain offline” From whom global female population 52 %, are still not using the Internet, compared to 42 % of all men”
This gender gap represents a true element of disempowering women, especially in the least developed countries. As a consequence, the role of the humanitarian aid sector becomes key to boost a new balanced relationship. It is part of what we address through our articles on humanitarian innovation and a new shape for the sector.
Economic and social stagnation leads to depending on humanitarian aid as the only source of survival, having a direct impact on the role of the sector in the field.
Their capacity to make changes and empowered people is powerful and needs to take the next step towards a new role. They are currently great initiatives that tend to work actively with local leaders and organizations but from a conservative perspective in which there is still an “aid framework” and not an “aid axis of power”.
However, the sector has become much more than an “assistant” and for delivering minimum standards of living they hopelessly need to enter into internal institutional relationships and social synergies.
That is why it needs to reshape their approach and structure and works towards a permanent basis and not an emergency action that looks much more as development cooperation and not humanitarian aid. Until there is a revolutionary shift towards true empowerment and development for these countries, the aid sector will continue being a “keeper” of the status quo and not a true agent for development. In the chaos, the authority becomes anyone in charge of delivering minimum standards for living. In whom, gender equality is a driver for more empowerment and balanced social relations.
We strongly believe that even if the introduction of the new legislation is part of an essential protection framework, however, because of culture, Education or just fearit prevents women to feel empowered and work on activism through the power that delivers accessibility to digital technologies, therefore all legal protection becomes useless.
The use of digital technology becomes a must for development in least developed countries as well as others. That is the reason for concluding that a slow and soft work from the aid sector -that in the end is the one in direct contact with the people- is key to achieve results in the short term.
More and more local empowerment and innovation for traditional standards of working for local leaders or organisations, including the aid sector, represents a milestone to make of gender equality an active approach and not just an aspiration while waiting for results coming from the Education system. The resources here and now rely on more and equal accessibility to technology by strong and resilient leadership from organisations. Demanding also reshaping of their internal structures and careful selection of human resources.
The more we dig into the Sustainable Development Goals particularly in relation to gender equality the more we realize the key role of partnerships. Uniting and give power to women around the world or even a local level is a challenge that starts from reforms to the Education system to educating towards new parameters of relations institutions-leaders-citizens.
We conclude that what we can do to shorten the gap of more global technology power and accessibility for women is realizing the need for even more democratic systems and better empowerment from the local community, rather than more legislation.