One does have access to technology, control of it, and also the ability to create and shape it, which happens to be a fundamental issue of women’s human rights. Much initiative does aim to help end the gender technology gap and also empower women as well as girls to create innovative solutions to advance equality in their communities. For example, with a mobile phone, a pregnant woman in a rural area can also stay connected to a midwife. For other women and girls, Internet access and a mobile phone mean access to a bank account for the first time, a new tool to learn how to read and write, or a way to stay safe and avoid harassment in a crowded city.
Worldwide several women have access to the Internet and the mobile phone. These phones do provide access to safety, organizing networks, early warning systems, mobile health care, and money transfers. An effort is on to bridge the gap and give women and girls the tools as well as access that they want as well as need.
One needs to support the focus on the production of new technology or adapting technology to women’s and girls’ contexts. One also needs to support women’s groups who make use of such technology to address issues that include violence against women, safety and access to safe spaces, political empowerment, education, and health care.
Closing the gender technology gap also implies helping girls access training and educational opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and IT (information technology). One needs to invest in work that does help empower girls and women to be able to pursue opportunities in these fields.
For example, the Global Fund for Women grantee partner Feminist Approach to Technology in India is creating a movement of tech-savvy young women and girls by training and engaging young women aged 12-18. They offer through confidence and skills-building courses alongside computer classes and pieces of training. In Sub-Saharan Africa, we have supported for Women Educationalists in Malawi and Mozambique to develop a science, math, and technology model that includes both in-school and extra-curricular activities to increase girls’ interest and participation in STEM.
Making the Internet safe
The UN estimates that 95 percent of harassment, abusive language, and derogatory imagery in online spaces is aimed at women. We will invest in projects and advocacy for safe online spaces, and in raising awareness to end cyberbullying and online violence against women.
One such project is run by Si Jeunesse Savait and uses information technology to denounce the high rates of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Si Jeunesse Savait trains women’s groups and survivors of violence on online security, online advocacy, how to write blogs, and accessing online services.
Building capacity and driving women’s movements
Digital technology is an increasingly important tool for movement building, allowing organizations and networks to exchange information rapidly, and to organize across geographical locations. It also creates opportunities for a diversity of voices to be heard and shared—an important feature of strong social movements.
Global Fund for Women will ensure women’s movements globally benefit from the organizing power of new technologies.