Women worldwide are using tech to power movements, learn about and secure their rights, advocate for marginalized groups, and mobilize offline actions. But they say technology needs a transformation of its own: more women in decision-making roles, stronger laws to protect privacy and safety, lower-cost tech access, and digital skills training taught by women. These are some of the key findings and recommendations released in the #SheTransformsTech report.
At the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic, World Pulse surveyed grassroots women leaders and marginalized communities from around the world on key technology issues and opportunities. Their responses reaffirm the statistics that show that about half of the world’s women remain offline and are globally underrepresented as users, makers, and leaders in the technology industry.
These inequities have been compounded by the pandemic’s rapid digitization. The #SheTransformsTech report highlights actions that policymakers, tech companies, and governments can take to make technology work for women, sourced directly from those who are most impacted.
The report’s release coincides with Girls in ICT Day and is backed by a coalition of 27 partners, including EQUALS, Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), World Wide Web Foundation, Vodafone Americas Foundation, and international women’s rights networks.
The #SheTransformsTech report is the culmination of a year-long campaign and includes:
- Analysis of more than 530 responses from 60+ countries (400+ survey responses; 130+ personal narratives).
- Key findings and recommendations for policymakers, tech companies, and individuals related to digital empowerment, technology access, online safety, and more.
- Stories from women, in their own words, on how they utilize tech for good and how tech can do better to support women’s leadership.
- Special highlights on the impact of COVID-19 on technology access and use; improving access for those with disabilities, and advancing digital skills training.
The #SheTransformsTech report uncovered facts like 91% of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “Technology has made a positive impact on my life”. Almost 50% report the quality of their internet connection is a barrier to accessing tech. 75% said they experienced some form of online harassment or abuse. Over 22% of those who had experienced harassment said they shut down an online account due to that harassment.
Along with chronicling the barriers and concerns that limit women’s ability to fully benefit from technology, the report presents solutions for a way forward. “In this report, you will read the unheard voices and powerful perspectives of women and gender-diverse individuals from across the world”, said World Pulse Founder and CEO Jensine Larsen. “Taken together, these voices call for nothing less than a fundamental realignment of the priorities of the technology industry and urge us to wake up to the vast leadership potential of women coming online globally to shape a better technology future for us all”.
In the report, Leonida Odongo of Kenya wrote how COVID-19 awoke the world to a new era of technology and drove home the urgency of closing the digital divide. “My ideal world is where there is access to technology for everyone — where we can connect regardless of where we live”, she said.
The findings of the report will be delivered to global decision-makers, technology leaders, and the United Nations as one of the inputs into the Beijing+25 #GenerationEquality campaign.
In addition, World Pulse recently launched a technology hub on its social network so that women can connect and exchange technology-related stories and solutions. Recommendations are also informing new international cross-sector initiatives to expand global networks of women digital trainers, increase inclusivity in technology design, and use technology to strengthen women’s rights movements.
“We need to center those most impacted by the problems in creating the solutions”, says a survey respondent from the United States. Software developer Karen Mukwasi from Zimbabwe asserts, “It’s time we take up space and bring the revolution to the tech field”.
Read the full report on the World Pulse website.