Despite information and communication technology playing such a key role throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN chief said that half the world remains offline, in his message marking International Girls in ICT Day, on Thursday.
According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) data, there is a 17 percent gender gap in internet use globally, which is even wider in least developed countries.In some regions, this gender gap is growing, reinforcing gender inequalities by denying women and girls opportunities to access education, find better-paid jobs, and start new businesses, says the UN news.
“Making these technologies available to all is an essential part of building back stronger communities and economies, and addressing many of the world's most pressing challenges”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his statement commemorating the day.
As an international gender champion, he pledged to help countries raise awareness and promote the active participation of girls and young women in ICT-related careers. “It will be key to fulfilling the demand of future jobs on an equal basis”, he said.
With more support towards education and skills training, ITU hopes to encourage more girls and young women to actively pursue careers in STEM to bridge the gender digital divide.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said that every girl has a right to be connected and play her part in “shaping a more equal, green and tech-driven future”.
“This is the world we are building together through Generation Equality, and specifically, through our collective work on the Technology and Innovation blueprint, which proposes goals to bring about a more equal and diverse digital transformation”, she said in a statement.For every girl, the goal must be meaningful connectivity – including broadband that is reliable, fast and regularly available – along with access to digital technologies and universal digital literacy, according to Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.
“Today, and every day, we recognize that digital power must be in the hands of girls”, she spelled out. “We have a unique window and momentum now to secure bold commitments that will ensure girls are connected and empowered to create the brighter futures the world needs”.
Careers have no gender
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said that girls’ education is “one of the most powerful investments we can make for our collective future”.