Oct. 11 marked the annual International Day of the Girl celebration spearheaded by The United Nations. The important celebration raised awareness about the needs and the unprecedented number of challenges that women and girls face around the world to gain access to education, digital resources, and safe living conditions. Women globally deserve the chance to make an impact and live in an environment that’s safe and fulfilled with all the tools they need to empower themselves. This year’s celebration addressed the fight for women’s right to digital access. Digital platforms could be used to help women learn, earn income, and could help to connect them with other professionals needed in their journey towards a brighter future.
This year, the Generation Equality Forum launched a five-year commitment to help close the gender inequality gap by giving women access to digital tools during the COVID-19 pandemic. The United Nations’ website notes that “2.2. billion people below the age of 25 do not have access to the internet at home.” Last year, students around the world pivoted to online learning as schools and educational centers were forced to close their doors due to the pandemic, however, a large number of students did not have computers or other digital education tools to gain access to homework, online classes or study resources. Girls, in particular, were severely impacted. According to The U.N., the global internet user gender gap has increased drastically over the last few years “from 11 percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2019, and widest in the world’s least developed countries at 43 percent.”
This causes a tough setback for women and girls who are looking to pursue careers in STEM- an industry that has been widely male-dominated and that is heavily reliant on tech-based tools to complete work and research. “Globally, the percentage of females among Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates is below 15 percent in over two-thirds of countries,” the site adds. This year’s celebration aimed to provide resources on ways of encouraging women and girls across the globe of advancing their digital and tech-rated skills to take advantage of job opportunities in the age of the digital revolution. It also hopes to address inequity and exclusion in the tech space so that the next generation of female tech trailblazers feel empowered to create digital businesses in the future.
So how can we celebrate International Day of the Girl every day? Do you have a female friend that’s pursuing a job in the tech field or launching their very own budding tech start-up? Share their stories across social media. Promote their products. Visibility and collective support could help aspiring women in tech live out their dreams. Call out gender inequality when you see it and if you happen to be in a position of power, hire and train women to do a number of tech-based jobs. This will help to create the change we want to see.