By Charndré Emma Kippie
On Monday, 11 October, the world will commemorate International Day of the Girl Child 2021. This year’s theme has been announced as: ‘Digital generation. Our generation’ – a call to action for bolstering equal access to the internet and digital devices for girls across the world.
A key focus for UN Africa, is the number of disadvantaged girls who are not able to exercise their fundamental human rights. Gender and age discrimination are at the centre of the violation of girls’ rights. Therefore, we must work towards enabling profound social transformation.
With this social transformation comes access. We must emphasise the need to take action and accountability for and with girls to bridge the digital gender divide affecting girls, especially in Africa. It is critical that our society ensures that girls, in developing countries specifically, are included in all digital transformation efforts. If not, these youths will get left behind as a result of the digital divide.
The Advocacy and Communications Toolkit
In coordination with International Day of the Girl Child this year, comes the launch of UNICEF’s Advocacy and Communications Toolkit. This Toolkit provides a set of practical tools to help UNICEF staff and Partners in the development and management of their advocacy work, and provide readers with ideas for driving change.
This year, UNICEF is using the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) platform to encourage stakeholders (both public and private) to partake in positively driving the change girls and young women require to assist them with gaining access and achieving equity in education, learning, a transition to employment, and ‘as leaders in an increasingly digital world’.
In addition, this year the GEF launched its five-year commitments for bigger solutions to gender inequality as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Even though, according to the UN, the pandemic has accelerated digital platforms for connecting and earning, there are around 2.2 billion people under the age of 25 who still lack internet access at home. Research has also indicated that more girls are experiencing being cut off than boys.
Girls Need Connectivity
The gender digital divide involves issues around connectivity, devices and their utilisation, skills and job opportunities. This displays an inequity and exclusion gap across locations and generations, presenting a massive challenge. The goal is to make the digital revolution more inclusive, for all.
The Advocacy and Communications Toolkit includes:
- Brief, guidelines, and core advocacy takeaways set under the International Day of the Girl 2021 theme.
- Useful resources for partners to use the momentum of GEF commitments and drive action.
- Tips on how to join the digital generation and uplift young girls so that they may live their full potential.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director, has listed bridging the digital divide as one of the five opportunities for children we must address now in order to contribute to creating quality education for all, especially post-Covid. Fore states that we must leverage the potential of digital learning as the great equaliser in education, and closing the gender gaps in digital skills and digital safety for young girls.
“Result after result — child after child — community after community — system after system. Our UNICEF family… is overcoming significant barriers to respond to the biggest global crisis in nearly a century, while building stronger, more resilient systems for the future”, said Fore.
“As a UNICEF family, we will come together and support children, young people, and their communities and countries during this challenging time.”
Five Key Opportunities for Children
Reimagining a brighter post-Covid world, according to UNICEF, involves 5 key opportunities for children that need to be prioritised now.
- Building trust in order for vaccines to work
- Bridging the digital divide to help bring quality education for all
- More attention must be placed on global youth mental health as per the Covid-19 situation
- Covid-19 does not discriminate, but our societies do. This needs to change
- Climate change is another crisis affecting everyone – action must be taken now
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