CSW67 Working Group from UN Women UK: Voice
Researching the UK’s gender digital divide to promote safe and meaningful access to technology
Innovation and technology offer so much potential as we look to empower women around the world
Digital technologies, including the internet, digital platforms, mobile phones and digital financial services offer “leapfrog” opportunities.
They’re a means to bridge the gender divide by giving women the possibility to earn additional income, increase their employment opportunities and access knowledge, information and services such as mobile banking and online education.
But while the digital transformation has improved the lives of some, we know that it has excluded and marginalised others.
A 2018 OECD report found that barriers to access, affordability, lack of education and inherent biases and socio-cultural norms prevent women and girls from being able to fully benefit from the opportunities offered by the digital transformation.
We need to work towards a world with safe and meaningful access to technology for all
✔️ Autonomy, through accessibility and digital literacy
✔️ Un-surveilled access
✔️ Representation in artificial intelligence (AI) data
✔️ Free from harassment & online gender-based violence
✔️ The right to be offline
Technology shapes how we live our lives in the UK
We book doctor’s appointments online, conduct much of our work and personal communications using laptops and smartphones, use AI in more and more sectors and routinely connect on social media. Technology shapes how we live our lives in the UK.
Digital exclusion has the potential to exacerbate vulnerabilities. Whether through challenges in access and affordability, poor broadband and mobile coverage, or online harassment and abuse, experiences of technology are hugely varied.
These challenges are magnified for women – especially poorer, older, disabled, migrant, or otherwise marginalised women, including those living in rural areas. While the rapid acceleration of digitalisation risks exacerbating gender inequalities.
The Voice group is working on robust research that identifies the scope of digital exclusion and technology inequality in the UK.
This will be used to provide evidence-based recommendations for policymakers, organisations and stakeholders to mitigate the barriers that women face in accessing and using digital tools and online platforms. While promoting safe and meaningful access to technology for women.
This is how we know change is needed, it’s time to raise the Voices of women
|People who lack digital skills and tools, especially the older generation, experienced far more isolation and disruption in access to essential services during the pandemic.
A report by AGE UK found that 40% of people aged over 75 (around 2.2 million) do not use the internet – that is a huge part of the population being cut off in a digital age.
|Poor digital connection and limited access to technology in rural areas create barriers to accessing essential services and fully participating in society.
0.3% of the UK, or 80,000 homes and properties, are still unable to access decent adequate broadband speeds (Ofcom, 2022) and an estimated 30,000 properties cannot access either decent broadband speeds or good 4G mobile coverage.
Some hard-to-reach premises in rural areas are also expected to have very high full-fibre broadband connection costs.
|Online gender-based violence is widespread in the UK, with 1 in 5 women having suffered online abuse or harassment, according to Amnesty International.
Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, highlighted the severity of this issue, “We are seeing young women and teenage girls experiencing online harassment as a normal part of their existence online. Girls who dare to express opinions about politics or current events often experience a very swift, misogynistic backlash.
This might be rape threats or comments telling them to get back in the kitchen… it might be having a major impact on the future political participation of those girls and young women”
As technology becomes pervasive in all aspects of our modern lives, with c.75% of jobs expected to be related to STEM areas by 2050, it renders women at risk of further exclusion and marginalisation in the digital world.
Using a data-driven approach to combat the UK’s gender digital divide: this is how the Voice group is building a more equal digital future
Comprehensive research and data collection across the UK
This will create a data-driven understanding of the extent and nature of technology inequality and the gender digital divide in the UK.
To help build the digital future that we aspire to, we need to know the reality of women’s needs and experiences of digital transformation, technology and online platforms.
There’s currently very little research on the scale of the problem in the UK, with many reports on the digital divide referring solely to the gender gap in the STEM industry.
Evidence-based advocacy and policy recommendations
This will allow for informed decision-making based on sound evidence.
The government, local councils, NGOs, and community organisations will have access to robust data and testimonies specific to the UK to make informed choices, as well as recommendations to promote safe and meaningful access to technology and digital skills.
Community engagement and awareness building
This is essential to mobilise support from our communities and stakeholders and raise awareness of previously unheard challenges.
Community involvement will also ensure that the proposed solutions are relevant and acceptable to those directly impacted.
Meet the team bringing Voices to life, post CSW67
The Voice team is made up of people from across the UK and from a range of backgrounds, each bringing their unique professional expertise and personal experiences to work towards their shared purpose.
Their strength lies in their geographical, ethnic, generational, linguistic and occupational diversity, which helps to reinforce the inclusivity of the research approach.
|Project Coordinator: Anushka Sisodia
Research Coordinator: Favour Emma-Nwachukwu
Partnerships and Marketing Lead: Olamide Eso
Project Administrator: Mosope Ogunleye
“I am excited about the benefits that this project will provide to marginalised women. The UN women UK is doing an amazing job and it is a privilege to be part of that”.
|They are supported by:
Ifunanya Nduka Roseline
Ifeoma Nneka Emelurumonye
Salome Ene Attah
Boatemah Baffoe (PhD)
“As a researcher in the Voice Project, I’m excited to contribute to addressing the digital gender divide. Our work combines thorough research and actionable solutions, aiming to empower marginalized women through evidence-based recommendations.”
You can help elevate women’s Voices in the digital world
1. Participate in the research
The team are looking for people of ALL genders to participate in their surveys and interviews, and specifically for women and non-binary people to participate in focus groups.
When you encourage everyone in your network to participate, you’re helping improve representation to provide more accurate data.
2. Donate to fund the research
The Voice group is a team of volunteers, entirely funded by donations.
They need your support to fund critical research that will provide evidence for national government to take action on digital gender inequality.
3. Spread awareness
Share information about Project Voice in your community and on social media.
Raising awareness about our research and its goals can help the group gain more support and participants, particularly from rural areas or underrepresented communities.