This year’s International Women's Day theme is ‘Cracking the Code, focusing on innovation for a gender equal future and closing the digital divide’.
But what does this actually mean?
The digital advancement we’ve seen in recent years has been so impressive however, we know historically women and other marginalised groups have had less access to education due to a number of barriers. Thus they get left behind in the context of learning digital skills and access to transformative technologies.
This is what’s known as the digital gender divide and it leads to a lack of inclusivity on the innovation front.
It also has a huge monetary impact. According to the UN Women’s Gender Snapshot 2022 report, this exclusion from the digital world has shaved $1 trillion from the gross domestic product of low-income and middle-income countries in the last decade alone.
Interestingly, in Australia the startup funding gap for women is getting wider. Of all the startups that received funding in 2021, only 8 per cent of startups were all-women founding teams, a decrease from 12 per cent in 2020. This could be due to a number of reasons, including the underrepresentation of women on investment teams or unconscious (or not) bias in the pitching process.
And yet, there is so much value in bringing women and other marginalised groups into the technological landscape. It results in more potential for innovations that promote gender equality and much needed diversity of thought and lived experience.
The silver lining is coming soon, I promise. There are so many ways we can all create actionable to help shift the narrative and it can start with the smallest step.
One morning in March 2017, I found myself procrastinating by scrolling through Instagram for a few hours (oops) and came across some insanely talented women of colour. I was in awe of these people from all career fields—startups, music, art, fashion, sport, science and more —who were finding the most creative ways to fuse traditional elements of "brown" culture with pop-culture and share their work online.
It was so empowering and validating to finally discover content representing dual cultural identities that I found myself wanting to learn more about each girl and the story behind her work. I thought to myself, “I wish I could just find all these women in one place. Like a ‘girl gang’, or more specifically, like a ‘brown girl gang’ so I can see myself reflected in the media”. So I searched up the handle ‘@browngirlgang’, saw no results found…and just made the account myself.
Fast forward to 2023 and the community (@browngirlgang) now has 172,000 followers and is a platform that stands for representation, empowerment, culture and fun. In the early days, it was just me curating content I loved and reposting it whilst on my morning train commute. I never would have dreamed of connecting with so many people around the world and it was only possible due to all the amazing and high-quality free tools and tutorials the internet has to offer.
So, here are just a few of the many ways you can help close the digital divide for women other marginalised groups and create actionable change:
- Follow their social pages: whether it’s a community, creator or company—amplify their message by resharing a post that resonated with you to your Insta story. Every person reached counts.
- Purchase from their e-commerce business: help a brand grow in the digital space by spending your money more thoughtfully.
- If you’re an expert in any digital field: offer free consulting for those who could gain from your knowledge, whether it’s improved SEO, social media marketing, website/graphic design or any other help.
- If you have some free time: start your own passion project that addresses closing the digital gender gap. You’ll learn so much whilst making an impact.
- Educate yourself and tell one person what you learnt: it can be as simple as starting a conversation with your family or your best mate. You never know what it may lead to.
Now read on for the eye-opening books to read on women's rights and empowerment.
Image credit: Krismas, Sanjana Nagesh, Zhenzhong Liu