According to recently released The State of the World’s Children Report of UNICEF, India’s girls and women are at risk of becoming further marginalised in society and at home if they remain digitally illiterate.
The theme of this edition of report was Children in a digital world. It provided country-level examples to give a sense of the kinds of barriers girls and women confront.
Key Highlights of Report
Digital connection and literacy offer advantages in knowledge-based society, improving children’s lives and their future earning potential.
Globally, 12% more men than women used internet in 2017. In India, less than one-third internet users are females. Only 29% of all internet users are female in India. Girls in rural areas of India often face restrictions on their use of ICTs solely because of their gender. India is one place in which digital divide highlights deep chasms of society.
Digital divides can mirror broader societal divides between rich and poor, urban and rural areas, between those with or without an education and between women and men.
Digital gender divide is caused by number of factors —education levels, lack of technical literacy, social norms and lack of confidence among people. But in India, it is often rooted in parents’ concern for safety of their daughters. Many fear that allowing girls to use internet will lead to liaisons with men, bringing shame on family. For most girls, if they are allowed to use internet, their every move is monitored by their parents or brothers.
In a society which is still patriarchal, for girls, traits are like obedience and deference are often valued over curiosity and intelligence. In some households, technology is not seen as necessary or beneficial for girls and women.
Bridging gender gap is necessary because if girls and women remain digitally illiterate, they risk of becoming further marginalised at home and in the society in large. Besides, digital literacy and connection offer advantages in knowledge-based society, improving children’s lives and their future earning potential.