I'd blush if I could: closing gender divides in digital skills through education

22 May 2019

On 22 May 2019, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published a report in collaboration with EQUALS Skills Coalition and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development on the gender digital divide under the title: I'd blush if I could: closing gender divides in digital skills through education. The paper highlights the importance of education in bridging the gender digital divide through digital skills but also in altering the mainstream mindset vis-à-vis gender, technology, and who should use it. To this aim, the report includes a policy paper on rationales and recommendations for gender-equal digital skills education. It outlines the persistence and severity of digital skills. The policy brief is complemented by two think pieces. The first looks at information and communication technology (ICT) gender equality paradox which provides that the more the country has digital equality, the less it has women with degrees in computer science and related subjects, and vice versa. The second investigates how female voice assistants use submissive language that promotes gender-based insults and provides recommendations to avoid broadening the gender divide with the proliferation of digital assistants.

Explore the issues

Women's rights online address online aspects of traditional women rights with respect to discrimination in the exercise of rights, the right to hold office, the right to equal pay and the right to education. Women represent more than half of the world’s population, yet their participation in technology-mediated processes is an area where progress is still needed.

The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.

Capacity development is often defined as the improvement of knowledge, skills and institutions to make effective use of resources and opportunities. Widespread on the agenda of international development agencies, capacity development programs range from societal to individual level and include a diversity of strategies, from fundraising to targeted training.

The digital divide can be defined as a rift between those who, for technical, political, social, or economic reasons, have access and capabilities to use ICT/Internet, and those who do not. Various views have been put forward about the size and relevance of the digital divide.


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