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Dhaka Tribune

How far have we come with Bangladesh's digital gender gap?

We cannot unsee the local e-commerce business and the other amazing things that are being accomplished by women on the internet

Update : 23 Oct 2022, 04:36 PM

In the 21st century, we have several issues with living in a developing country like Bangladesh.

As the 21st century commenced, technology changed communication and transportation.

Technological advancements allowed the industrial revolution to reach its full potential.

Earth has shrunk to the size of a pea as a result of the breakdown of barriers and boundaries.

All of these events are a consequence of technological advancements.

And they are happening as quickly as lightning.

While the rest of the world gains from technical growth, developing countries must contend with issues like food insecurity and nutrition.

In addition to these problems, Bangladesh is a developing nation that often encounters natural calamities.

Although Bangladesh has succeeded in overcoming these obstacles and has emerged as a role model for other developing nations, the nation still lacks substantial connectivity across the spectrum and gender equity in the digital arena.

With time Bangladesh has stepped into the world of technology and is slowly and steadily walking towards technological advancement. In the meantime we cannot unsee the e-commerce business and the other amazing things that are being accomplished by women on the internet.

However, a significant number of individuals who have accomplished this transition have benefited from other advantages in their background, and they are spectators to the ongoing marginalization of women in society.

If we don't talk about the digital divide, rather than closing, the difference between men and women will widen.

The impacts of the digital gap may be quantified based on an individual's time spent online and their ability to undertake online activity.

The digital divide is the uneven access to digital technologies, including smartphones, tablets, and the internet.

People without access to the Internet and other ICTs are at a socioeconomic disadvantage because they are unable or less able to find and apply for jobs, shop and sell online, participate in democratic processes, or conduct research and education in the Information Age, in which information and communication technologies (ICTs) have surpassed manufacturing technologies as the foundation for global economies and social connectivity.

Potential

Without women's full involvement, a digital economy cannot grow to its full potential.

Digital inclusion is advantageous from both a policy and financial standpoint.

The adoption of the internet has not been an exception to the near-permanent legacy of technical progress that is the digital divide and its cousin, the gender gap in the digital world.

The internet's history has shown that women and girls are less likely to use it than men and boys.

However, this does not have to or ought to be the case in the future.

Men are far more prevalent online than women in many places of the globe.

According to regional estimates from the ITU, males outnumber women in the globe by a ratio of about three to two.

The GSMA estimates that more women in low- and middle-income countries use mobile internet than males by around 234 million more.

The gender gap remains with over 55% more males than women in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where it is most obvious.

The digital gender gap touches on many of the same elements as the gender-based digital divide.

Focusing on the "gender gap," however, highlights the fact that this digital disparity is but one component of a larger system of prejudice and disadvantages that restricts the capacity of women and girls to engage in society.

The gender gap in digital technology is a human issue, while the digital divide is a technical one (A4AI, 2021).

Women are less likely to use the internet than males for a variety of reasons.

They are also discouraged from engaging in the online world as equals due to a variety of deliberate and unintentional kinds of discrimination and disadvantages that result from a confluence of personal and cultural causes.

The result is easily quantified by the gender gap in digital technology. 

Despite Bangladesh's growth and connectivity in this field, the population's lack of digital knowledge and access is not being tackled with the seriousness that it demands, except in the context of business.

In many situations, individuals merely browse the web to pass time.

However, most individuals are not yet comfortable enough with technology to reliably acquire services online without the assistance of external parties.

We're a long way from actual digital empowerment when we do that.

The poor usability of some of these websites just adds to the challenge of connecting people and especially women only add to the issue more.

Every aspect of digitization should be working toward the goal of making people's lives easier and more efficient use of their income.

Changing times

However, new research reveals that the government may be digitizing for the sake of digitization, bringing with it issues that already afflict offline services to those that are provided online.

Before expanding their scope, the government should give top priority to enhancing the overall quality of the online services that are now available.

If the services are difficult to obtain, then increasing people's participation in digital activities will be challenging, if not impossible.

At the same time, in order for the general population to enjoy all of the advantages that the digital age has to offer, the government has to make efforts to expand digital access and literacy, which especially needs to address the female counterparts of the country.

As part of enhancing policy goals, the digital infrastructure needs to be enhanced in order to ensure that everyone has access to an internet that is both dependable and high-speed at a cost that is affordable.

However, the creation of a digital economy that is to the advantage of all parties, including women's involvement, requires more than just the infrastructure to be taken into consideration.

In addition to this, it is necessary to remove the social, technical, and economic barriers that restrict women from making effective use of the internet.

The gender gap in the digital domain has to be reduced, and in order to do so, we need laws that are proactive, give more weight to the experiences of our women, and address specific barriers that may affect women more or entirely.

 

The author is an independent researcher working on environment, climate change and gender

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