For women, the internet hasn’t been a feature, a convenience or a tool – it’s been an agent of change. The global digital story cannot be complete without the impact it has had on reducing the gender gap, opening access and opportunity. Digital fluency has helped in closing the gap at the new age workplace. Nothing empowers like equal access to information.
Digitally Hers: How the internet is an agent of change for women
Digital has had a positive impact on women’s education, skills and therefore employment openings. Countries where digital access and abilities are more widespread, there is also a stronger sense of gender equity. Women who are familiar with the internet also display a strong sense of leadership because they are self-confident and skill-confident. Women want to return to the workforce and are finding new tracks to economic achievement of which entrepreneurship is a big part.
Companies and governments face a disparity between the skills they need to stay aggressive and the pool of talent available to them. Because women are underrepresented in the workplace in most countries, they are a significant source of untapped talent. The future looks promising as the youth mature and move into the workplace, and grow through ranks of leadership at work, taking those skills to turn reasons for change for their gender.
According to a report by Accenture ^ , “If governments and businesses can double the pace at which women become digitally fluent, we could reach gender equality in the workplace by 2040 in developed nations and by 2060 in developing nations.”
India is adding 5 million connected users every month. These are statistics that speak of the opportunity in India’s internet story. In 2016, the number of mobile internet users in India is above 400 million as per internetlivestats.com. ^^ That’s second only to China and ahead of the United States. But behind these powerful figures is the gender gap when it comes to access to Internet. The IAMAI report shows men account for 71% per cent of Internet users, while women account for just 29%. The gap is slightly lower in urban India, with men accounting for 62% and women 38%. These are the major findings of a report titled ‘Mobile Internet in India 2015’, released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International. ^^^
Rural India has this ratio completely skewed in favour of men, where 88% of total internet users in rural India are men. These ugly figures also present an opportunity and spell out the possibilities can present women new life skills. A country like India where language skills are enhanced, there is tremendous growth digital content in vernacular languages as well as strong growth in smartphone and feature phone penetration, using digital to break new ground is a must.
Shaili Chopra is the founder of SheThePeople.TV & GolfingIndian.com