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Gender Digital Divide

Women now encounter new type of discrimination and prejudiced approach through the male dominated digital technology
12:00 AM Mar 20, 2024 IST | MOHAMMAD JALAL-UD-DIN
gender digital divide
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The more social and political platforms manifest to equalize the gender rights, the more the void. Gender equality is a question of prestige and power. From the long past this power was gradually struggling to touch completion for equalization but the un-impartial use of technology is likely to slow, stop or reverse the trend.

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This is through gender digital divide which is now becoming new addition to gender inequality. Women now encounter new type of discrimination and prejudiced approach through the male dominated digital technology that often uses algorithms designed by male dominated tech-industry.

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Consequently they offer solutions and prospects mostly relevant to male tastes and requirements. Notwithstanding the fact that women work/serve more than men who enjoy and control most of the opportunities, emancipation and resources offline/ online. This first to serve and last to eat creature is witnessing a sharp increase in crimes against her as is revealed through national and international crime records bureaus and other private publications.

The heritage of patriarchal mode of functioning is unwilling to loosen its grip and share power with the source of power with the result the other gender remains unacknowledged and unrewarded or less rewarded in various fields.

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Male-based input data give incomplete and partial outcome for purposes of general health and security features of women and girls whose rights thus get compromised downward. With the introduction and use of artificial intelligence the gender divide can widen further.

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Online space too is not safe for women and girls as is corroborated by the increased number of attacks or attempts to attack on women journalists, social activists, politicians, self-help group leaders, NGO’s which cause people’s representation, democracy and democratic set up suffer badly.

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Women and girls are not valued at par with men and boys at any stage. Instead of empowering them by providing easy access to entrepreneurial enterprises, joint ventures, educational pursuits, health care schemes and financial vibrancy, technology is often harnessed to harm their interests and subdue them further through detective surveillance and trafficking.

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They are betrayed, their trust is breached, hopes shattered, services undervalued, contributions ignored or underrated, wise suggestions defied, help denied, sympathy withheld, empathy rejected, opinion thrusted etc. Despite co-sharers in partnership of life entitled to receive equal dividends, they are possessed as assistants and helpers to fulfill others’ goals.

The rapidly growing discriminatory trend in gender inequality, even in presence of existing laws to protect their rights, has led the Portuguese politician Antonio Guterres, the 9th acting Secretary General of the United Nations Organisation to voice his concern seriously during 3/2023 in a Town Hall meeting with Civil Society at the 67th Session of the “Commission on the Status of Women” where he said, “and policies based on men’s data will leave women and girls further behind.

Artificial intelligence will be shaping the world of the future. Without women’s equal input, it will continue to be a man’s world. So call influencers denigrate women and feed misogyny and toxic forms of masculinity to millions of young men and boys.

Centuries of patriarchy and damaging stereotypes prevent women innovators from getting the recognition they deserve. Those same stereotypes push girls away from studying science, engineering and math and strangle the careers of women scientists. Women are credited less for their achievements ,win far fewer prizes and receive less research funding than men, even when they have the same conditions. Just two percent of venture capital in investment goes to start-ups founded by women.

The male chauvinist domination of new technologies is undoing decades of progress on women’s rights. In the face of this patriarchal pushback, we must push forward-not just for women and girls, but for all communities and societies.

Without the insights and creativity of half the world, scientific progress will fulfill just half its potential. And a safe, humane online environment requires the contribution of all humanity. We must take decisive and deliberate action”.

The use of technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence is to be mobilized to remove the digital gender divide and promote equality. Gender digital divide has to be addressed with gender neuter technology and funding.

The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.

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