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Digital Revolution is Causing Gender Inequality: UN

FILE - An Internet cafe owner, left, stands nearby as a customer, right, uses a computer at an internet cafe in the Kibera neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 29, 2021.

As the world commemorates International Women’s Day on Wednesday, the United Nations says the digital divide between men and women has become the new face of gender inequality in the world.

The U.N. says men continue to dominate in careers related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and have better access to the internet than women worldwide.

Around 63% of women have access to the internet compared to 69% of men, according to the U.N.

Sima Sami Bahous, the executive director of U.N. Women, said the digital revolution has led to the empowerment of some women and girls, but new challenges have emerged that have intensified gender inequalities.

“A new kind of poverty now controls the word – one that excludes women and girls in many devastating ways, that of digital poverty,” said Bahous.

“The digital divide has become a new face of gender inequality which is being compounded by the push-back against women and girls that we see in the world today.”

Miriam Ngolo, a Kenyan chemical scientist who was recently appointed the director of strategy and business development at Bamburi Cement, said her industry predominantly caters to the needs of men.

“For example, the basic safety gear in the organization, in many operations was just designed for men meaning that we had to fit in a male designed overall and safety boots,” Ngolo said.

“We need the right policies on career development, on promotion of gender diversity on job shortlists, on interview panels and job appointments,” she added.

Despite the challenges posed to women in her field, the chemical scientist said her company has made improvements in empowering women.

“I’m so happy to look back and see that my organization has got more than 30% of women on operations, and it’s an achievement that shows that embracing diversity and equality is possible and women can deliver results just like any other person,” Ngolo said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it is important that the global community prioritizes gender equality because “progress won for decades is vanishing before our eyes.”

“In many places, women’s sexual and productive rights are being robbed. In some countries, girls go to school risk kidnapping and assault,” Guterres said. “In other cases, police prey on vulnerable women they have sworn to protect. Gender inequality is growing more distant.”