Bridging the digital gender divide: Technically empowered young women share their knowledge
05 January 2022
In the Arab region, the rate of female labour force participation is 18% compared to the global average of 48%. Women are often reporting that they are facing discrimination in training and jobs, patriarchal norms and stereotypes, workplace harassment, low wages, and limited labor rights.
To achieve gender equality, young women must have equal access to technology, including the Internet, digital training, and online safety.
In the following stories, three brave young women are creating a path towards a future of digital equality.
Protecting herself and others
Women and girls are disproportionately targeted by online threats, harassment, and crime.
To combat this rising trend, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) funded an 8-week training course this year called “Me & My Mobile,” which introduces participants to mobile applications and ways to protect themselves and others from cybercrime.
One of the participants was Bessan, a 19-year-old Syrian woman who lives in Jordan.
Soon after the course, she put what she learned into practice. “Thanks to the training,” she explains, “I was able to help my cousin get back her social media account after it was hacked by a friend of hers.”
Bessan urges women and girls to report such incidents and to take cyber-protection classes.
“Today, I’m no longer afraid of any online risks,” says Bessan. “I am well prepared to protect myself and others.”
Capitalizing on COVID-19 e-learning opportunities
“Most of the graphic designers I see in my village are men,” Esraa says. “There are some girls, but with very limited career choices as our families wouldn’t easily approve staying away from the village for work.”
While scrolling her timeline during the lockdown, Esraa stumbled into an online post that turned out to be a great career opportunity.
With no access to school, the 21-year-old who lives in a village in Upper Egypt was able to take an online training in a field she’s highly interested in: graphic design.
She learned about the course through a new United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) social media initiative called “Meshwary Ekbar Makanak” that trains adolescents and youth in job skills across 20 different areas.
“Meshwary” is Arabic for “My Journey”—and “Ekbar Makanak” means “Grow Where You Are.”
Levelling the gender playing field in Jordan
“I was brought up by a single mother who lost her husband when she was just 28, and raised four children on her own, as well as managing to study, earn a university degree, and work!” says Balqees, 23.
Balqees Shahin is a HeForShe volunteer from Jordan who co-created a gamification platform on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Developed entirely in Jordan, and designed by youth, the platform is the first of its kind that enables young people to discuss and learn about gender issues. The initiative was led by the Arabic HeForShe movement, in partnership with UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
“Making gender equality appealing is not an easy process,” says Balqees. “We have faced many barriers, not only from older adults, but also from peers, especially during the HeForShe university tours.”
Following two successful such university tours, the HeForShe movement will start using the app in a series of virtual events organized in partnership with Jordanian schools.
Technology can be a powerful tool for young women to transform their lives and bring about change on issues that affect them, their communities and ultimately the world.
This story draws on previously published UN stories from UNFPA Jordan, UNICEF Egypt, and UN News. Compilation of stories produced with editorial support by Elie Baaklini, Development Coordination Office. To learn more about the results of our work in this area and beyond, please read the latest UNSDG Chair Report on DCO.