India’s digital gender gap could further marginalise women: UNICEF


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: State of the World’s Children Report, UNICEF

Mains level: Digital gender divide and reasons behind it

State of the World’s Children Report

  1. With less than one-third of India’s internet users being females, the country’s girls and women risk becoming further marginalised in society and at home if they remain digitally illiterate
  2. This is in the backdrop of the country making a public push towards a more digital economy
  3. There is a digital gender gap as well. Globally, 12% more men than women used the internet in 2017
  4. This was published in 2017 edition of UNICEF’s annual flagship publication “the State of the World’s Children Report”

About the report

  1. Themed “Children in a digital world”, the latest report provides country-level examples to give a sense of the kinds of barriers girls and women confront
  2. Pointing out that digital connection and literacy offer advantages in a knowledge-based society, improving children’s lives and their future earning potential, the report says: “At the same time, connectivity doesn’t always equalise opportunity.”
  3. Digital divides can mirror broader societal divides — between rich and poor, cities and rural areas, between those with or without an education — and between women and men

Factors behind digital gender divide in India

  1. Social norms
  2. Education levels
  3. Lack of technical literacy and lack of confidence among them
  4. It is more often rooted in parents’ concern for the safety of their daughters
  5. There is also a fear that allowing girls to use the internet will lead to liaisons with men, bringing shame on the family
  6. For most girls, if they are allowed to use the internet, their every move is monitored by their parents or brothers
  7. For girls, traits like deference and obedience are often valued over intelligence and curiosity
  8. In some households, technology is not seen as necessary or beneficial for girls and women

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