The American Library Association defines digital literacy as “the ability to find, evaluate, communicate and create information using information and communication technologies”.
In ancient times, people communicated through letters, and these letters soon became text messages and emails. Digital literacy should be introduced to a child’s education at a very early age. Children should be taught how to use digital technologies such as phones, computers, and tablets to interact with their global world effectively. These days, digital literacy is just as important as literacy itself.
We live in a digital world and we all must become digital citizens. We become digital citizens by using technology to interact with the world around us.
Women are lagging behind when it comes to having access to information, communications, and technology. They do not benefit from digital transformation as much as they should. From an early age, while boys are given video games, girls are given dolls. When it is time to choose a career, women are less likely to pursue options in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) that would allow them to perform well in the digital world.
There is a small percentage of innovative start-ups that are founded by women when compared to those founded by men. Women-owned start-ups are likely to receive less funding than their male counterparts. There are a lot of barriers to access, education, digital skills as well as inherent biases and socio-cultural norms that hold back women’s involvement in digital literacy. As a result of this, a stereotype that women are technophobic is formed.
Women are believed to have less interest in technology and are less capable of using it. They also face discrimination and social-cultural biases. The digital gender divide in the access and use of digital technologies is holding back women everywhere.
Including women in digital literacy is bigger than ensuring they have access to computers, they have to be taught how to use it and how to apply that knowledge to various aspects of their everyday life. Digital literacy provides many new opportunities for the economic empowerment of women around the world in many different ways and can contribute to gender equality.
Digital literacy provides women with access to educational resources. The integration of the internet as a teaching tool in academic courses has grown rapidly. Digital literacy makes it possible for women to gain access to information and learn in a conducive environment, at their own pace in a digital classroom. Digital literacy broadens women’s global perspective as it gives them access to other cultures, traditions, and religions. It has been known to boost academic performance as it provides access to millions of journals and peer-reviewed articles. Women need to how to solve complex problems both online and in real-time, how to be innovative, and how to think critically in both physical and virtual spaces.
Women need digital skills to have access to health services and information. Women, especially those in developing parts of the world, need to be connected. The internet, as well as other digital platforms, provides the means to make meaningful decisions about challenging life situations especially for women in conservative societies. Digital skills provide women the avenue to ask questions that are deemed inappropriate, questions about sensitive matters, and questions they would be otherwise shy to ask another person. Pregnant women can have access to antenatal information without being physically present at a hospital. New mothers can connect with online support platforms and get tips and advice on baby care. Teenage girls can get information regarding sex, reproductive health, politics, religion, and societal norms.
Women should be equipped with digital skills to have access to financial services. The internet can equalize opportunities for women to improve their position in society. Whether it is learning how to start an online business or how to access low-interest loans or healthy ways to save and invest, digital literacy encourages self-reliance and independence.
Action should be taken to bridge the digital gender gap by equipping women with the right skills, encouraging women into entrepreneurship and innovation, and providing the right conditions to enable women to participate effectively in the labor market. Awareness needs to be raised and gender stereotypes need to be tackled to ensure safer and more affordable access to digital tools. There is also a need for stronger cooperation across the world to remove barriers to women’s full participation in the digital world. Concrete policy actions should be employed to foster women’s inclusion in the digital economy while also addressing stereotypes and social norms that lead to discrimination against women.