The digital revolution has transformed the way we live and work, and we think and behave with significant implications for women and girls around the world. It offers unprecedented opportunities for innovation, which can improve business performance, enhance service delivery, and transform organizational practices. On this International Women’s Day, it is essential to recognize the positive impact of digital tools and technologies in promoting gender equality and empowering women, while also acknowledging the challenges that remain.
Digital transformation has increased access to information and communication for women and girls, enabling them to connect with family, friends, and colleagues across the globe. In Nepal, digital tools are playing a crucial role in supporting migrants and family members, providing them with access to critical information and emotional support. These tools provide a lifeline of communication and support for those who are separated from their loved ones and help them cope with the challenges of migration.
Digital technologies also have the potential to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas, providing women entrepreneurs in remote regions with access to new markets and resources. With access to digital technologies such as e-commerce platforms, digital payments, social media marketing, online training and support, and mobile apps, women entrepreneurs in rural areas are overcoming geographical barriers and connecting with new markets, customers, and resources.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) systems, leading to the adoption of digital or blended learning modes. The transition has posed significant challenges, and it is essential to provide effective provisions for upskilling and reskilling the workforce in new-age technologies to keep them updated with the latest digital developments.
However, there are still significant barriers that prevent women and girls from participating equally in digital transformation. The digital gender gap is a major issue, particularly in rural areas where there is inadequate digital infrastructure and low literacy rates. Addressing these barriers is crucial in promoting shared prosperity and maximizing the potential of digital development.
Online gender-based violence is another challenge that women and girls face, which can have negative and lasting impacts on their mental and physical well-being. Promoting digital literacy among girls and reducing the digital gender gap are essential steps toward achieving gender equality and protecting the rights of women and girls.
A collaboration between practitioners, researchers, and policymakers is crucial in fully harnessing the potential of information and communication technologies for achieving sustainable development and promoting gender equality. Collaboration can help identify and address the underlying causes of the digital gender gap, including cultural, social, economic, and political factors that limit women's access to technology and opportunities.
Promoting the positive impact of social media is one way to drive change and empower women and girls to share their stories, amplify their voices, and promote progress toward gender equality and women's empowerment. Social media platforms provide a platform for women to connect with each other, exchange ideas, and support each other in their personal and professional lives. Let us leverage the power of these platforms to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and promote inclusivity.
Dr. Prabin Manandhar is an expert in international development. Currently, he is working as the Country Director of Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation Nepal. He is the Former Chair of the Association of International NGOs in Nepal (AIN). He is also a visiting faculty at Kathmandu University and the Tribhuvan University Institute of Crisis Management Studies. The opinions are his own and not that of his employer. He can be reached at email@example.com