A clarion call to bridge gender digital skills divide

The gender digital divide threatens development in some low and middle income countries.

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In celebration of the International Day of girls in ICT, UNICEF encourages countries to facilitate equity in opportunity regarding digital skills development. To this end, the organisation has published a report calling on governments and other stakeholders to work towards more equitable digital skills development.

UNICEF’s director underscored the need for such action, specifically in low and middle-income countries. Despite recent gains in the general digital divide as it relates to access to internet and devices, the gender digital skills divide in low-income countries remains the proverbial last mile.

According to the UNICEF report, female youth aged 15 – 24 in low-income groups and regions are at the lowest end of the totem pole. The findings show that for every 100 male youths with digital skills, only 65 females do in select countries.

From the data, Asia has the largest skills gap with a 27 percentage point advantage in favour of male youths regarding internet use. Other factors contributing to this skills gap are the lack of early exposure and access to technology, girls’ digital life skills training, harmful gender stereotypes, and online violence.

Key stakeholders are encouraged to teach, protect and promote equitable digital skills training in order to future-proof their economies.