Digitalization becoming an equalizer in bridging this gap for women
I foresee digital technologies as a huge enabler and equalizer for gender equality and empowerment. Digital technologies provide opportunities for greater access to information, education and skills and open possibilities for increased employment and business opportunities. In a nutshell, access to digital technologies can be a leveller.
- They have the potential to bring women closer to many services that can improve access to education, health, legal and financial services.
- Digital access can also help raise women’s and girls’ awareness of their rights, increase their civic engagement, and enhance expression of ideas and opinions. Also, it will help in improving their participation in creative and cultural practices, leisure and in connecting with peers.
- It can, for instance, help many women gain access to a bank account for the first time. Researchers in India discovered that depositing women’s salaries into their own bank accounts, as opposed to the account of the male family head, increased female labour force participation, particularly for women who had never worked before or whose husbands disapproved of their employment.
- The study also found that women receiving direct bank deposits were more likely to push back on restrictive gender norms, to hold more liberal attitudes towards women’s work, and visit common public places, like markets and health centres.
- These results suggest that by strengthening women’s control of household resources, digital payments systems may increase female’s bargaining power and consequently their engagement in the labour market.
Closing my thoughts
Yet another example of women empowerment through digital is the ‘Arogya Sakhi’ programme run by NGO Swayam Shikshan Prayog. It uses a mobile application that empowers women in becoming health entrepreneurs by helping them deliver antenatal and infancy care. We can also look at the increase in ridesharing apps catering ‘for women by women’. In short, digital can challenge traditional socio-cultural norms and intrahousehold bargaining power imbalances that have been largely suppressing women’s participation in the economy.
Please click on the link to access the article: DQ India