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Does Digital Boom Leave Female Participation Behind?

The internet has been a key tool to save entrepreneurs in recent times. However, many argue that that the digital world is not as democratic as it is supposed to be.

The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía Pizano

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During the last year, we all heard that the pandemic would impulse a digital era that would bring new opportunities for all of us. The internet has been a key tool to save entrepreneurs in recent times. However, many argue that that the digital world is not as democratic as it is supposed to be.

It is worth highlighting that as much as 60% of men use the internet on their mobile phones, compared to only 47% of women. Additionally, women only account for 18% of the technology experts. This was discussed during the Women Business Forum held by the intergovernmental institution Union for the Mediterranean.

Closing the gender digital gap is not only a matter of human rights, mentioned Sana Afouaiz, advisor for UN Women and Founder of Womenpreneur Initiative, it is also vital for the development of society. She also claimed that equality is a necessary condition for a sustainable economy. It is important to empower women facilitating their access to the economic and financial system. In a context in which the future of work is partly determined by digital abilities, it is vital to provide opportunities to the whole population to not widen the gender gap.

Also read: FACEBOOK'S NEW HUB TO KEEP WOMEN SAFE FROM ONLINE ABUSE

Anna Dorangricchia, who is an expert in inequality, from the UfM, remarks on the importance of women’s technological abilities, particularly for entrepreneurship and the startup world, where they face a lack of financial access as well as an absence of the required knowledge. Having access to a computer or an internet connection is not enough to obtain all of the benefits of the digital era. However, only one in three graduates from STEM  are women, and only one in six of them is a telecommunications expert.

The UfM recognized that there is a tendency to believe that women are worse than men when it comes to paying back credits, but reality shows the opposite. However, a change in financial and social policy has to be made to ameliorate the situation of women. During the Women Business Forum, the speaker insisted that access to financial services is essential, but aiming for equality goes beyond this sole aspect. We also have to recognize women as entrepreneurs and implement appropriate measures to include them in the system.

It becomes clear that many countries have to pay special attention to the digital gender gap. The participation of women in the labor market is at 31% in the Middle East and North Africa, where more than 50% of rural women lack access to the essential knowledge regarding digital skills to access the internet. The gender digital gap in the Arab world has shifted from 19% in the year 2014 to an alarming 24% in 2019. In developing countries, women have 25% fewer chances of having access to the internet. If the number of women who can access the internet was doubled, the world’s GDP would grow between 13,000 to 18,000 million dollars.