6 Ways Digitalization Is Empowering Women Around the World
It is abundantly clear that women's empowerment is absolutely critical to the overall development of any society and economic growth
As I sit here writing this piece, it occurs to me that I am completely a product of digitization. My entire career and identity have been shaped online for which I am extremely grateful and I have seen this increasing trend across the world, particularly for women.
It is abundantly clear that women’s empowerment is absolutely critical to the overall development of any society and economic growth. The good news is that information technology has exponentially expanded the opportunities for women, in India and across the globe. Here are six such ways digitization is empowering women.
To seek real change we must build from the bottom up. In an enlightening case study conducted by Bridgewater called Impact of Digitization on Women’s Empowerment: A Study of Rural and Urban Regions in India, the authors make a compelling case for how mobile technology “has brought the world to [womens’] fingertips” which in turn allows them to stay ahead of current affairs and encourages financial independence by facilitating online transactions. These are trends we must collectively as a society encourage. Something as simple as teaching your domestic helpers to use a smartphone can go a long way in empowering them and their families.
Having a voice
Digital media has encouraged women to speak up and discuss issues that are crucial to their very survival. This has brought topics such as sexual harassment, domestic violence, female sexuality and the gender divide front and centre instead of hidden away behind closed doors with largely men deciding the narrative. Many campaigns have gathered steam thanks to this digital amplification, with the #metoo movement being a prime example of this around the world. Likewise for the “challenge accepted” where women globally posted black and white photos of themselves, an act that originated in Turkey to bring attention to the fact that Turkish people wake up every day to see a black and white photo of a murdered woman in their newspapers. This was not only a victory for awareness but a call for action that reverberated around the world.
The age of the Internet and e-commerce has created numerous opportunities for women to come into their own and explore business opportunities they never had before. Small business owners are really flourishing online, including women with all kinds of unique business ideas they are executing to perfection from their own homes.
Bringing mothers back into the workforce
Many women voluntarily chose to give up their careers in favor of raising children, but in many cases, they are also left with no choice. There are very few businesses that take important facets of motherhood such as breastfeeding into consideration, let alone offer the space or comfort to do so. With digital becoming the primary mode of communication including in the business world, women can more readily balance the demands of motherhood and their jobs from the privacy of their homes. Imagine the amount of brain equity we are reclaiming as a globe in the process.
For generations, we have been conditioned to believe that women are always in competition with each other. For limited jobs, for the ideal man, the perfect face, the better body. But this is simply not true. This is a story we’ve been fed for far too long. In my experience, women are absolutely the best champions for other women. The hashtag #womensupportingwomen isn’t simply a trend used over 12 million times. I see it happening in so many ways across innumerable fields. One of the reasons I launched the Girl Tribe by MissMalini App earlier this year was to enable women to communicate in a safe, judgment-free space where they can actually flourish using social media to empower and inspire each other. That is what women want from the Internet. They want to make real connections, which sadly isn’t always possible in the unfiltered, unpoliced open Internet.
An Accenture report, Getting To Equal How Digital is Helping Close the Gender Gap at Work, assessed that, “If you are digitally fluent, it can provide a positive effect throughout your entire career lifecycle, and the effect benefits women more than men.” It goes on to state that, “if governments and businesses can double the pace at which women become frequent users of technology, we could reach gender equality in the workplace by 2040 in developed nations and by 2060 in developing nations.”
Unfortunately, India still has the lowest overall score of all the countries across the board for digital fluency for women. This is something we should all take a long and hard look at if we hope to make any significant progress as a nation.
Malini Agarwal, aka MissMalini, is the founder and creative director of MissMalini Entertainment, a news media network that creates highly engaging, multi-platform content geared towards India's Internet generation.