INTERNET5: Shaping an Internet for women’s empowerment
Under the right conditions, digital technologies can contribute to achieving the targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030 by fostering economic growth, improving governance, and delivering better outcomes in education and health. But these positive effects can also be undermined by the role that technology can play in amplifying social, economic, and political inequalities.
Three challenges stand out:
Lack of access and skills:
Poor women, girls, and other marginalized communities in the developing world struggle for equitable access and often lack the skills to use digital tools. This entrenches the significant wage gaps that already exist, and means that women will struggle to harness 21st century employment opportunities as more jobs move online.
Many women, more so than men, are targets for online “trolls” who seek to shame, taunt, and marginalize female voices. This means that although women may overcome access and skills barriers to get online, they often face severe harassment once they’re active in cyberspace.
Under-representation of women in fields such as computer science and engineering:
The digital bias is further compounded by the absence of women in the fields that shape and drive the design of technologies. Ensuring women contribute in these spaces means technological innovations will be designed with their needs in mind. For example, providing information on better sanitation or supporting flexible work options to counter bias or harassment.
INTERNET5 — an Internet that helps achieve SDG 5 on gender equality — aims to support research focused on what works in building social, political, and economic empowerment for women and girls. It seeks to understand how to improve women’s skills and access to the Internet and to explore how digital and networking tools can best be used to achieve SDG 5 targets. INTERNET5 is also leveraging research to facilitate equitable policy and regulatory environments that support the rights of women and girls online and offline.
INTERNET5 research themes are designed to support better gender-related outcomes through technology and development in three related areas:
enhancing pro-women policies and rights online;
improving governance and creating economic opportunities that empower women by testing and scaling digital innovations; and
improving access to technology and the skills needed to create and innovate.