#eSkills4Girls is an initiative under the German G20 presidency with the aim to tackle the existing gender digital divide in particular in low income and developing countries. The specific objectives are to globally increase women’s and girls’ access to and participation in the digital world and to boost relevant education and employment opportunities in emerging and developing countries. This platform is a joint project by G20 members – backed by a consortium of leading international organisations including UNESCO, UN Women, ITU and OECD. The platform aims to collect and disseminate information and knowledge on the issue, to showcase current initiatives as well as good practices and policy recommendations to different stakeholders that are playing an essential part in helping to get more women online and into IT professions. It does not aim to duplicate any existing efforts but rather helps at aligning and linking existing initiatives and stakeholders with each other.
The digital gender gap
The internet is changing our world, the way we live and work. According to Deloitte, the ongoing digital transformation has the potential to create millions of jobs in emerging markets. However, current evidences show alarmingly that women and girls do not benefit from these potentials, especially in developing contexts. It is estimated that there are some 250 million fewer women online than men and this gap is currently still increasing. While the gap is rather small in OECD countries, it amounts to nearly 25% in developing ones, as UN Women report constitutes. The reasons for the digital gender gap are manifold but they all contribute to the same problem – existing inequalities between men and women are growing because of women’s lack of access to and ability to make proper use of digital technology. This trend is highly problematic because it endangers progress made.
Potentials of the digital transformation
The good news is that for example through access to digital technology, women can be empowered to create better lives for themselves and their families through income generation and also through better training and education. This might in some contexts eventually lead to entire communities being lifted out of poverty. A study by Intel, conducted in 2013, says that, if an additional 600 million women were to access the internet over the next three years, the GDP across 14 countries in the developing world might increase by as much as 18 billion USD.
Women would also profit from internet access with regards to their level of education and the improvement of their health conditions, which are human rights. Last but not least, internet access and electronic communication skills would enable women to participate more actively in processes of political decision making and democracy.
Skills – a key for digital inclusion
Some of the key factors keeping women and girls from accessing the internet are a lack of skills and support from their social environment. One way of addressing such problems is non-formal education. Educational opportunities for digital literacy should be created, targeting women and girls both in- and outside of the formal education system. Additionally, public awareness campaigns, launched and run by civil society can challenge existing stereotypes. Over time, this can help shifting negative attitudes about women engaging in the digital sector. Find out more about stakeholder-specific recommendations.
Target groups of the platform
The online platform particularly addresses decision-makers of G20 members and governments of low income and developing economies. However, it also serves to provide a valuable tool for knowledge exchange between practitioners, non-governmental organisations, international organisations and academia. The wider public is addressed by offering a comprehensive overview of existing initiatives, programs and projects and by introducing successful women and girls as role models.
The platform is a joint project by leading institutions in the field in order to make sure existing efforts are not duplicated. These institutions will act in a consortium and are responsible for the curation of content, the alignment with existing initiatives and for providing expertise and up-to date information on the topic. Consortium members are UNESCO, UN Women, ITU, OECD, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).