Women and men evolved from cave dwellers to conquerors of the world. Much of human progress is due to development in science, technology and communication. But as the years passed by men raced ahead and women lagged behind. However as this is one of the challenging issues, it is important that one must talk about and discuss its possible solutions.
This year UN Women organised a safe place for girl advocates around the world to come together to listen to each other and share their perspectives on the present issues facing girls and women. As a youth advocate from Nepal, I had the opportunity to participate in CSW67 Global Girls Townhall. This meeting was a wonderful experience for me. I learned many new things and listened to many amazing girls and women from around the world. They discussed how the absence of technology are resulting in women in their societies being left behind in many STEM fields.
In the meeting, I was able to interact and share some of the challenges and problems that a girl faces in my community. I also heard many voices from other countries sharing some of their personal experiences of the status of women in their communities and how gender biases lead to women lagging behind in various STEM fields. One of the girls shared that due to various reasons their schools was closed and they were unable to get education. Classes were only offered online but many children in her area lacked internet access and proper digital devices. Some families who had the devices preferred their sons to attend classes and unfortunately many girls were unable to access education.
This made me realise of the true cause of the lack of women in STEM fields. Aside from the digital divide and lack of proper funding and digital literacy classes and job opportunities, women are also discouraged by their own community to study STEM even though they had access to technology. Gender biases and stereotypes also stop girls from pursuing STEM careers and opportunities.
The meeting also discussed recommendations and solutions. Youth advocates and stakeholders shared possible solutions to address the gender digital divide. I think one of the best recommendation is for private sector and UN agencies to properly fund the development of technology infrastructure in rural areas and for governments to make equitable, safe and secure STEM education a right for girls of all ages.
Attending this meeting helped me to learn more about the present social issues and how technology can play a vital role in empowering and providing opportunities to girls and women. Hearing the voices and powerful speeches inspired me to continue to help the women and girls of my community as a youth advocate. My deepest gratitude to UN Women who organized a safe place for young girls like me to share our voices and recommendations to solve the problem of digital divide in the world.
AUTHOR: Shreya Tamang (Mary Ward Youth Advocate – St. Mary’s Nepal)