"Digital generation. Our generation: Learning in the era of COVID-19"
The gender digital divide has meant that many girls have missed out on education in the last year. More men than women have access to the internet in most regions of the world.
UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank survey of national responses to COVID-19 school closures found that in 134 of the 149 countries surveyed, high-tech modalities were used to ensure continuity of learning.1
However, gender gaps in digital skills are present in many contexts and are a barrier to online learning.2 These gaps are apparent in simple tasks such as using apps on a mobile phone and grow wider for advanced skills like coding. Women and girls are 4 times less likely to know how to programme computers, and 13 times less likely to file for technology patents.3
In addition, concerns about girls’ and young women’s safety online limits their ability to learn. Parents and caregivers can limit girls’ time online because of the heighted risk of sexual exploitation, cyberbullying and exposure to harmful content.4 Disinformation and misinformation have become more intense since the COVID-19 pandemic and are a real obstacle to girls' and young women online learning, creating environments that are not conducive to their civic and political participation, and overall empowerment. More efforts are needed to empower young people, equip parents and caregivers with the knowledge and skills to support online safety, and enhance cooperation to expand access to reliable, factual and gender-responsive information in safe online spaces.
That's why the theme of the 2021 International Day of the Girl Child is "Digital generation. Our generation. Learning in the era of COVID-19." It recognizes the profound changes that have taken place in today's technology-saturated societies, the role of girls and women in these changes, and the need to close gendered digital access, skills gaps, and girls' access to safe and relevant online learning.