Policy brief: The digital literacy gender gap is not a technical problem

Digital technologies can contribute to more gender justice. Yet, women still lag behind men in internet access and use. Globally, men are 21 percent more likely to use the internet than women. In the least developed countries, this figure rises to 52 percent.

In the newly published policy brief “Bridging the Digital Literacy Gender Gap in Developing Countries” an international team of gender and technology experts shows how sociocultural factors play a key role in the digital literacy gap. Accordingly, the problem with women’s access to digital resources does not reside in the medium itself but in the social context in which women are situated. Lack of autonomy, unequal access to education, and the perception of women as being unsafe in digital spaces are the main reasons for the digital literacy gender gap.

Against this backdrop, the authors conclude that digital literacy programmes for women will fail if they do not address women’s social and cultural challenges. How to avoid this? The policy brief gives four concrete policy recommendations:

  1. Create safer online spaces for women
  2. Create a database on access and the use of digital resources, with a regional focus
  3. Leverage partnerships with the private sector and non-government organisations to design and implement digital literacy programmes
  4. Adopt gender-specific targets and monitor progress

To learn about our efforts towards educational justice, visit our page on the topic or directly go to our digital education platform for Africa atingi.