By Kaavya Ramesh and Megan O’Donnell, ONE
Without basic internet skills, most people in the world’s richest countries would be unable to participate in an economy that’s increasingly digital. But right now, women living in the poorest countries are 31% less likely than their male counterparts to have access to the Internet. If current trends continue, the gender gap in these countries will continue to grow, and by 2020, over 75% of women will still be unconnected.
This is a big problem, and it was one of the main challenges tackled by female leaders at the recent Women 20 (W20) Summit.
Champions of gender equality — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, IMF Director Christine Lagarde, and ONE’s Interim Africa Director, Nachilala Nkombo — gathered to discuss the challenges facing women and girls, including lack of internet access, and to make a game plan.
These powerful leaders developed a proposal that asks G20 leaders to connect every classroom and invest in digital skills and access for girls.
Their memo to the G20 included language supporting the need to address connectivity. Here’s what it said:
“The W20 calls on the G20 to swiftly bridge the widening digital gender divide…
Information and communication technologies (ICT) have been identified as a key driver for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals…
Furthermore, they are tools through which gender equality and women’s economic and social empowerment can be advanced.”
The German government and Impact Hub, supported by Google, also launched the #eSkills4Girls initiative, geared at awarding startups, social enterprises, and nonprofits that promote women in technology.
Now it’s up to G20 leaders to prioritize women and girls’ digital inclusion by investing in their access to the digital skills they need to learn, start and grow businesses and contribute to developing innovation and technology.
Want to tell world leaders that the digital gender divide must end? Pledge your voice and join the fight for a connected world.