A partnership between the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Philippine-based NGO Telecentre.org has trained one million women around the world on information and communication technology (ICT).
Launched in 2011, the Women’s Digital Literacy Campaign tapped Telecentre.org Foundation's global network of 100,000 telecenters worldwide and ITU's 193 member states and 700 private sector members.
As of this month, the ITU reported that a total of 1,014,096 women have been trained in basic computer skills, through the efforts of 153 participating organizations and 20,000 telecenters around the world.
“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.”
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, including the sub-Saharan Africa, where there are only half as many women connected as men, according to estimates.
“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.
Miguel Raimilla, Executive Director of Telecentre.org Foundation, said that the campaign may have already reached its target of training one million women in ICT, but the work doesn’t stop here.
"There is still so much more to be done out there, and the program will definitely continue to empower women worldwide through ICT, in the hopes of inspiring change and ultimately bringing about the much needed results," he said.