ITU celebrates the power of digital literacy to change women’s lives as it reaches target of ‘one million women trained worldwide’
Geneva, 7 March, 2014 – Over one million disadvantaged women in 79 countries around the world are now benefiting from newly-acquired information and communication technology (ICT) skills thanks to a partnership between ITU, the UN specialized agency for ICTs, and Philippines-based NGO Telecentre.org Foundation.
The Women’s Digital Literacy Campaign, launched in 2011 with a target of training one million women around the world, leveraged the combined reach of Telecentre.org Foundation’s global network of 100,000 telecentres worldwide and ITU’s 193 Member States and 700 private sector members.
The campaign reached its goal earlier this month with a total of 1,014,096 women trained in basic computer skills, through the efforts of 153 participating organizations and 20,000 telecentres around the world.
Obonyo ‘Molly’ Adhiambo couldn’t afford a college degree, and knew her options were limited – until a friend told her of a digital literacy training course being offered by youth-based organization Nairobits Trust…learn what Molly did with her new computer skills…
Yulia Korneyeva was 23 when she first learned to use ICTs at a telecentre. But like many young people hit by the economic crisis, she recently found herself out of work – and realized she lacked the proficiency to apply for the positions she wanted. Her future changed when she saw an advertisement for a free course entitled “Advanced Digital Literacy”…find out how Youlia’s training changed her life…
“The success of this joint campaign meshes perfectly with this year’s International Women’s Day theme of ‘equality for women is progress for all’, because training in today’s ICT systems is so often change that turns around the lives of unskilled and disadvantaged women and their families,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré.
“Having the skills to use ICTs opens up new horizons and empowers women, both economically and culturally. In addition, offering digital skills to over one million women at grassroots level is helping reverse the paradigm whereby, in many countries, ICTs still most often benefit men more than women.”
Recent research by ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau estimates that there are 200 million fewer women online than men. Of the world’s 2.8 billion Internet users, 1.3 billion are women, compared with 1.5 billion men.
While the gap between male and female users is relatively small in OECD nations, it widens rapidly in poorer countries, where expensive, ‘high status’ ICTs like computers are often unaffordable for women at the bottom of the development pyramid. In the developing world overall, 16% fewer women than men are online, with even greater disparities in some regions; in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, ITU estimates that there are only half as many women connected as men.
A report issued last year by
the Broadband Commission for Digital Development’s Working Group on Gender, led by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, revealed that, around the world, women are coming online later and more slowly than men. It also showed that women are on average 21% less likely to own a mobile phone – representing a mobile gender gap of 300 million, equating to US$13 billion in potential missed revenues for the mobile sector.
“With technology now widely recognized as a critical enabler for socio-economic development, the Women’s Digital Literacy Campaign has been key in reinforcing ITU’s global efforts to promote the digital inclusion of women in line with Millennium Development Goal 3 on gender equality,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, which initiated and led the Women’s Digital Literacy Campaign.
“Partnership is key in any undertaking, and what we have achieved so far under the Telecentre Women Digital Literacy Campaign is a testament to this. I, therefore, take this opportunity to thank ITU and all our partners in this campaign for accepting the challenge and for embracing this cause with so much fervour,” said Miguel Raimilla, Executive Director of Telecentre.org Foundation. “We may have already reached our target, but the work doesn’t stop here. There is still so much more to be done out there, and the programme will definitely continue to empower women worldwide through ICT, in the hopes of inspiring change and ultimately bringing about the much needed results.”
The campaign is just one element of ITU’s work in the field of gender empowerment through ICTs. Each year on the fourth Thursday in April, ITU and the global technology community celebrate ‘Girls in ICT Day’, an international awareness-raising initiative launched by ITU in 2010 to promote tech careers to a new generation of girls with an interest in science and maths.
Since its inception in 2010, the day has been gaining huge momentum around the world, with 2,700 events organized in 121 countries for an outreach of more than 70,000 girls and young women. Event organizers are gearing up for a big celebration on 24 April this year: stakeholders are encouraged to contact
ITU has also developed a range of digital literacy training materials designed to be used in school-based community centres and multi-purpose telecentres by women, indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities. In addition to providing basic ICT literacy, the materials show trainees how ICTs can be used to support a range of economic activities such as handicrafts, agro-tourism and agriculture. Training materials can be accessed