Tuesday, Oct 12, 2021 20:30 [IST]

Last Update: Tuesday, Oct 12, 2021 14:55 [IST]

Every girl child must be digitally empowered

RANJAN K BARUAH

This year the first medal was won by a female athlete for India in Tokyo Olympics and she is from Manipur. Four years back India got two medals in the Olympics and both were won by female athletes. We are aware that women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. The recent pandemic has brought a digital divide amongst many in the world. The digital divide could be seen in rural areas more than urban areas due to gadgets and connectivity and also purchasing powers.
The global internet user gender gap is growing, from 11 per cent in 2013 to 17 per cent in 2019, and widest in the world’s least developed countries at 43 per cent. 2.2 billion people below the age of 25 do not have internet access at home, with girls more likely to be cut off. Globally, the percentage of females among Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates is below 15 per cent in over two-thirds of countries. And in middle and higher-income countries, only 14 percent of girls who were top performers in science or mathematics expected to work in science and engineering compared to 26 per cent of top-performing boys. Nearly 1 in 4 girls aged 15–19 globally are not in education, employment or training, compared to 1 in 10 boys.
The pandemic has accelerated digital platforms for learning, earning and connecting, while also highlighting girls’ diverse digital realities. The gender digital divide in connectivity, devices and use, skills and jobs is real. It is an inequity and exclusion gap across geographies and generations that is our challenge to address if the digital revolution is to be for all, with all, by all. We must ensure that no girl child is left out from digital learning. In case there is any digital divide then it is our foremost responsibility to bridge the gap and ensure their participation in digital learning.
There is no doubt that girls know their digital realities and the solutions they need to excel on their diverse pathways as technologists for freedom of expression, joy, and boundless potential. Let’s intensify the diversity of these tech trailblazers while simultaneously widening the pathways so that every girl, this generation of girls – regardless of race, gender, language, ability, economic status and geographic origin – lives their full potential.
In 1995 at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing the rights of not only women but girls. The Beijing Declaration is the first to specifically call out girls’ rights. On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.
António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations in his message on the occasion said that “today’s girls are part of a digital generation. It is our responsibility to join with them in all their diversity, amplify their power and solutions as digital change-makers, and address the obstacles they face in the digital space.” He also said that “the strength, health and empowerment of the world’s girls is a matter for every single day of the year. The International Day of the Girl is an opportunity to recommit to this global imperative.”
Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We must empower our girl child from all perspectives and in return they shall empower all of us by taking up challenges in future. Together we can make a difference and let us join hands to bring positive social transformation by empowering all girl children.
(With direct inputs from UN publication and feedback can be sent to bkranjan@gmail.com)

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi