Five Year Action Plan for Digital Inclusion of Girls

Internet and digital inclusion for 600 million girls and adolescents is this year’s UN theme. PHOTO: ILLUSTRATIVE/ SEM MEXICO.

Mexico, October (SEMlac).- The inclusion of the Internet and digital devices for 600 million girls and adolescents is the theme of the United Nations this year: “The Digital Generation. Our generation”, with a five-year action plan.

October 11 marked the tenth anniversary of the International Day of the Girl; however, investment in girls’ rights remains limited and girls continue to face myriad challenges in realizing their full potential.

In addition, other problems persist, such as the sexual violence suffered by 1.1 million girls and adolescents at some point in their lives in Latin America and the Caribbean, and forced child marriage, which generates early pregnancies and births, high mortality rates and maternal morbidity, dropping out of school and increased risk of domestic violence.

According to the 2020 statement on the International Day of the Girl by the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (Cladem), it is essential to require states to comply with their obligation to protect, guarantee, promote and respect the human rights of girls in our region and around the world.

Barriers to girls’ access to the Internet and digital devices
UN agencies are convinced that digital inclusion and literacy offer girls new ways to gain knowledge, earn income and exercise leadership, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the pandemic has also exacerbated the gender divide when it comes to online connectivity and safety, as girls face socioeconomic barriers to accessing the internet and technology devices.

Globally, there are 2.2 billion people under the age of 25 who do not have access to the internet at home, and girls are the most likely to be offline. Among the reasons are lack of connection to the Internet or electricity and situations of conflict or crisis of their governments that prevent them from the right to education and access to technology.

Those connected to the Internet face cyberbullying. According to the latest survey of 14,000 girls from 31 countries, 58 percent experienced online harassment or abuse.

On the other hand, in upper-middle-income countries, only 14 percent of girls who excel in science or math expect to work in science or engineering, compared to 26 percent of boys.

The wide variety of voices that girls have was essential in defining the Global Plan to Accelerate Gender Equality, which UN Women and its partners presented in the context of the Intergenerational Equality Forum.

A five-year plan puts girls at the center of the digital revolution by supporting initiatives including digital access and digital skills development; investment in technology and feminist innovation with social impact; new collaborations to create inclusive, transformative and responsible innovation ecosystems; and designing new tools to prevent and eliminate gender-based discrimination and violence online and facilitated by technology.

In 1995, the world community adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action with the vision of improving women’s rights and was the first to specifically call for girls’ rights.

In 2011, the UN General Assembly designated October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child to recognize the rights of girls and the unique challenges they face around the world, and to promote their empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

Girls have the right to play, learn, decide and build their lives

According to UN agencies, Kladem points out that every year 12 million girls under the age of 18 join a couple, and one in five becomes a mother before reaching that age. 130 million girls are out of school; approximately 15 million adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 have experienced sexual violence, and every week approximately 15 million adolescents and women between the ages of 15 and 24 become infected with HIV.

CLADEM considers it essential to guarantee conditions of equality in all stages of life, to enable girls and adolescents to build and achieve their dreams, for which it is urgent to invest in non-sexist education, to install capacities in communities that allow changing roles and gender stereotypes and ensure the effective functioning of mechanisms that deal with violence.

Girls have the right to develop, play, laugh, learn, create, decide and build their everyday lives. Kladem wants their childhood to be happy, fulfilled and cared for, and for that they need tools and skills that allow them to plan their future and achieve their goals.

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