The stage has been set for gender equity in Digital India

Source: The post is based on the article The stage has been set for gender equity in Digital India published in Mint on 22nd March 2023. 

Syllabus: GS 2 – Social Justice 

Relevance: concerns associated with digital gender divide 

News: The article discusses the measures that can be adopted to reduce digital gender divide. 

What are the highlights of the data? 

As per the National Family Health Survey (2019-21), only one in three women in India (33%) have ever used the internet, compared to more than half (57%) of men.  

Men compared to women (49% vs. 25%) have used the internet twice which creates a stark digital disparity. 

India is home to the largest number of women anywhere in the world. Therefore, problems that create a digital gender divide need to be addressed. 

What are the reasons behind the digital gender divide? 

Lack of access: Due to the low levels of digital infrastructure, internet coverage, and smartphone availability, women have less access to it than men do. The digital gender gap also widens because of gender inequality. 

Digital illiteracy: The lack of digital literacy also causes gender divide. Girls with lower levels of functional literacy often cannot make optimum use of smartphones.  

As per the National Family Health Survey (2019–21), 66% of women in rural areas and 59% of women across urban and rural areas in India have not finished at least 10 years of schooling. This makes them incompetent to have digital access. 

Cyber safety and security: The lack of proper digital literacy makes women vulnerable to online harassment, cyberbullying and cyberstalking. The fear of these in turn leads to a digital gender gap. 

Read More: Bridging the Digital Divide 

What can be done to overcome the challenges of digital gender divide? 

Designing digital solutions to advance gender equity: Participation of girls and women in co-creation of digital solutions will increase digital adoption and aid in bridging the digital gender divide. 

Digital literacy and capacity building: Women should be provided digital literacy because it could help them in getting new knowledge and skills which in turn may help them in getting better employment opportunities. 

Responsible technology: Technology should be developed in such a way that it protects user privacy and data. It should also not lead to discrimination against women. For this, the government and stakeholders need to collaborate along with educating users to act responsibly. This would ensure a safe and secure digital environment for women and girls. 

What steps have been taken by the government to bridge the digital gender divide? 

The government has taken various initiatives such as Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan (PMGDISHA), National Digital Library for children and adolescents which has also been proposed in the Union Budget 2023-24 and Stay Safe Online campaign. 

What can be the course of action? 

Economic, social and digital empowerment for women is rising in India. Therefore, women should be given ample opportunities to have full digital access and technology so that they can grow, and the digital gender gap might be reduced. 

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