Historically women have always been the gender with the least support with regards to education and empowerment, however, technological advancements and the ever improving Internet options have had a profound effect on trying to correct this.
While the Broadband capabilities in almost all first world countries are immense, and most women have had access to the Internet for the last decade, the story in developing countries is a completely different story. In a UN report on Broadband in 2015, there were glaring disparities between genders when it came to connectivity. In developing countries, the report showed that 25% fewer women have Internet accessibility than men, and in some sub-Saharan this gap can rise to around 50%.
This disparity means that women in developing countries across the world are missing out a lot of the benefits that come with Internet connectivity. This is especially a concern in countries where women are traditionally at a disadvantage. In many of these countries, women are second class citizens at birth and struggle to get the same access to education and skilled jobs as their male counterparts – cultural norms dictate that women belong working in the household or fields and they are often not afforded the opportunity to better themselves.
In fact, the report stated that if that if these countries fail to address the shortcomings of Internet connectivity that there will be dire consequences. “If women and girls are unable to enjoy the same access to broadband and ICTs, including the availability of relevant content, they will find themselves at a serious disadvantage in becoming fully literate, accessing skilled jobs, learning about and exercising their rights, and participating as citizens in public and policy-making processes.”
So what initiatives are in place to ensure women throughout the world are getting access to the Internet? Some local and international organizations have taken it upon themselves to improve the situation and these are some of the initiatives and programs they have put in place.
This global initiative has worldwide reaches from Uganda and Kenya to Haiti and India, and many other places in between. This non-profit initiative gives data-driven projects to women in areas where there is little opportunity for them to better themselves and where they are traditionally treated as less than equal to men.
Created in 2008, the project has trained and employed around 3,000 women in programs such as Getty Images, TripAdvisor and Microsoft. The women not only get a much-needed education and personal growth –but they area also paid a living wage that assists them in improving their life and reaching their goals.
2. The Amakomaya Project
This project is based in Nepal and directly translates to mean “a mother’s love”. The point of the project is to provide much needed technological access to women in rural Nepali villages, who have not been afforded the opportunity before. Mainly a research and education based project, it provides information to pregnant women who can now research and gather information on pregnancy, prenatal care, and baby/child care.
This is vastly important in these regions where infant mortality is incredibly high. The success of the project has allowed it to develop into a mobile platform too, which serves to connect rural doctors and health care workers with their urban counterparts. All the information is given to the women in their own language too.
Wireless Women for Entrepreneurship & Empowerment (W2E2) is an Indian based project that provides thousands of rural Indian women with Internet connectivity, digital tools and training in an effort to help them set up their own social enterprises or digital entrepreneurship. Many of these women have used the training to benefit their entire communities by setting up internet kiosks, providing training or starting agricultural or rural health schemes. Through the training and education of a few women in each village – the project has had far reaching influences on women and villages throughout the whole country.
Afchix is a company based all over Africa and its purpose is to encourage young girls and women to strive for careers in technology. The project provides mentoring, training and Internet access to women and girls that are interested in following a career into IT based or computing fields. The company also organizes events for women throughout the continent to come together and share their skills, expertise and experiences with each other. They hope to establish a generation of African women skilled in tech-based careers to mentor and help the next generation.