Gender Gap in Access to Technology – UPSC GS1

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Access to technology is so crucial to ensure public health and safety. In recent years, health
  • According to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA):
    • Around 390 million women in low- and middle-income countries do not have Internet access.
    • In South Asia, only 65% of women own a mobile phone.
    • Whereas, In India, only 14.9% of women were reported to be using the Internet.
  • According to GSMA, closing the gender gap in mobile Internet usage in low- and middle-income countries would increase GDP by U.S.$700 billion over the next five years.
Why Women have limited access to technology?
  • It is often believed that women’s access to technology will motivate them to challenge patriarchal societies.
  • There is also a belief that women need to be protected, and that online content can be dangerous for women, and it will expose them to risks.
  • As a consequence, girls and women who ask for phones face suspicion and opposition.
What are the steps being taken to promote gender equality in access to technology?
  • At UN Women, companies are encouraged to sign up and agree to principles that will lead to a more equitable future for all.
  • The Generation Equality Forum has agreed upon the goal to double the number of women and girls, working in technology and innovation.
  • By 2026, they aim to reduce the gender digital divide and ensure universal digital literacy.
  • Further, investments in feminist technology and innovation to support women’s leadership are being pushed forward.
  • The digital empowerment programmes and partnerships such as EQUALS led by UN Women facilitate more girls to choose STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as their academic focus.
Way forward: Neutral world of technology
  • To establish a Neutral world of technology, Companies should start investing in Women related technologies.
  • For example, businesses can design apps specifically towards mothers or apps for women to access telemedicine consultation or digital networks to connect women to informal job opportunities, etc.,
  • In the 1950s, dishwashers and washing machines were promoted as a method of emancipating women. Household goods producers, for example, target most of their advertising to women because they often control the household budget. Digital technology could be approached similarly.
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