Digital technologies are electronic systems and resources that help us learn, communicate, and play, such as computers, smartphones, smart televisions, and websites, among others. Digital technology means that devices can be more compact, faster, lighter, and more versatile. Huge amounts of information can be stored and moved around virtually instantaneously, including photos, audio, and videos.
According to a study published by the European Commission, globally, only 17% of people working in technological fields (especially, ICT) are women, and those women earn 20% less than their male counterparts. In Uganda, women use the internet far less than men, according to a new survey from the World Wide Web Foundation, which found that 27% of men in the country are online, compared to just 19% of women. Despite the effort being put in by different stakeholders to bridge the gender digital gap, there are still barriers that discourage women from embracing these technologies, like data costs, lower digital skills, and restrictive social norms.
However, a multi-stakeholder approach can address these challenges, thereby creating a conducive and inclusive environment that supports the needs of women and girls such as access to affordable and reliable internet. These will empower women and girls to adopt these technologies, thereby enabling them to reap the advantages. It will also facilitate the utilization of digital tools, which include enhancing women and girls’ access to educational resources, providing a platform for sharing stories, perspectives, and experiences, and amplifying their voices in policy and advocacy matters. This comprehensive approach will foster their inclusion, engagement, and rights within society, ultimately contributing to the eradication of all manifestations of gender disparities.
Digital technologies increase opportunities for learning beyond the classroom where one can easily get access to a wealth of information, knowledge, online education (relevant content), self-study materials, and educational resources through authentic interactions between people and the extended social environments.
Digital technology also saves time. It facilitates online discussions on social media platforms and provides faster updates and the latest information which allows learning to take place on a many-to-many basis, thereby supporting socio-constructivist modes of learning and cognitive development that are profoundly social and cultural in nature.
Additionally, it helps build social connectivity by making it easier to communicate with friends and family through video call platforms to social media outlets. For people who are not physically located near their community or have family members in other countries, the internet provides a bridge of connection.
There is faster access to information when needed, in that documents are digitally available and anyone with the right to access can view them when needed, which makes it a lot easier to collaborate effectively. Additionally, data communication (internal and external) is simplified and there is convenience with which information can be exchanged. This is a significant benefit of digitalization.
Digitalization improves decision-making, the pace at which information is exchanged and delivered to the proper individual is exceedingly quick which gives the person the capacity to get correct information when it is needed thus allowing them to make better decisions, which eventually helps them thrive.
Digital marketing; With digital marketing, women will be able to reach a big target audience, and increase and drive their sales thus increasing revenue. It also helps businesses engage, get new ideas, convert, retain, and reach their target audience. It is also more cost-effective than traditional advertising.
‘’Digital technologies provide access to life-saving information, health and other public services, and platforms for employment, training, and education,’’ said Helga Maria Schmid, Secretary General OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).
In Conclusion, while digitalization can be a powerful tool to help empower women and fight gender inequality, more needs to be done to combat the gender digital divide and increase women’s access to a wide range of digital technologies.
Written by; Babirye Roseline, Program Assistant Gender and ICT Policy Advocacy