Broadband for improving the lives of women – and their families

Empowering women through ICTs has a direct link to social and economic development. Some of the most powerful ways to advance development focus on increasing women’s access to education, healthcare and financial services.

This in turn allows women to improve their quality of life and that of their families.

Evidence for the importance of women as socio-economic change agents includes the fact that women spend up to 90% of their own income on their families and communities. Women are also critical for food security, as they cultivate approximately 80% of all food in many low and middle income countries.

However, women are not participating in this great new technology as much as they should. Despite the fact that today, girls go to school more, they go to university more and they are generally better students than boys.

But they still don’t necessarily go into technical, engineering or scientific fields.

So we proposed a resolution to ITU. The vision is to globally inspire young girls from all over the world to study technology and to become ICT professionals. To change their own lives, the lives of their family, the lives of their own community and also the lives of people across the world by using the ICT.

We have already held an inaugural – Girls in ICT Day – for the first time in my country and had 300 girls from all over Serbia visiting ICT companies.

But I think encouraging girls to be involved in ICT has to be taken very seriously on more levels than one. These would include; on the level of government; on the level of education; on the level of families; and very importantly also on the level of media.

Knowledge has really become global and easier to share. People who aspire to attain knowledge can now do so.

Women often make choices with the best interest of the family and the future generation at heart.

ICT can be used as a tool to fight poverty, increase employment, education and entrepreneurship. If policy-makers wish to improve standards of living over the long-term, they need to ensure that young girls and women have access to mobile technology and broadband to help improve their quality of life and that of their families and communities.

By: Jasna Matić, a member of the UN Broadband Commission, contributor to the The State of Broadband 2012 report and  former State Secretary for the Digital Agenda, Government of the Republic of Serbia.

Join the discussion on Twitter #TechNeedsGirls and visit the ITU’s new campaign website.

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