The digital world is not equal. It’s not fair. For many – it’s not even safe.
Instead of balancing power, the digital shift has reinforced differences. Vulnerable groups are falling behind. And women are falling behind. Women are missing out on jobs and opportunities.
In addition, our digital world has fostered new forms of assaults on women and women’s rights. Harassment, threats, and digital violence is flourishing online. Girls and women who dare raise their voices, are especially targeted. Female voices are being silenced as we speak.
Conflicts, authoritarian regimes, and a pushback against gender equality, pose a serious threat to human rights, democracy, rule of law but also a sustainable financial growth in societies.
Inclusion in the work force is not only crucial for women to be economically independent, and therefore free and safe to make their own choices, but it’s also necessary for a well-functioning economy.
It's not only the right thing to do, it’s a smart thing to do.
In Norway’s case, the high participation of women in our workforce stands for more economical value than any sector. But women participating didn’t happen without targeted policies and measures. Now, we must ensure that the digital divide does not leave women behind.
The dire situation facing women living under authoritarian regimes, is reinforced by the attacks on women’s rights and dignity online. If we allow the harassment, silencing and assaults against women online and offline to go on – if we allow women to keep falling behind in the digital societies and work markets – we risk a roll-back of the decades of progress for women’s rights that we have worked for - together.
We need to join forces and act.
In order to leave no one behind, all girls and women need access to digital technology, and they need to be taught the skills to use it. And digital competence is – of course! - crucial for women to become employed.
Digital literacy has become almost as important as traditional literacy. Soon, most jobs will require sophisticated digital skills.
We need more female employees – we need more female entrepreneurs – we need more women that can come up with innovative solutions, and take part in shaping tomorrows digital societies. Women are grossly underrepresented in the industry. They make up less than a third of the workforce worldwide.
We need more female leaders in board rooms and executive groups in tech companies. Not just because it is fair. But because it’s clever.
The gender digital divide has great negative impact on countries’ potential for economic growth and development. Keeping women out means missing out.
Furthermore, if technology is created by men – for men – we risk missing out on innovations that could have improved the lives of half of the planet’s population. Diversity benefits all. We need safer, more inclusive, digital societies. No country alone can transform big tech.
In the Nordic countries, we are working closely together to make big tech take more responsibility when it comes to safeguarding the human rights of our citizens, our free media, our democracies.
The EU-nations have approved the Digital Services Act and proposed a new European Media Freedom Act. This shows that regulation IS possible when nations work together.
We call on all nations to stand united in this important work. Together we can ensure that the amazing possibilities that digital technology provides, are used to create a better digital world – for girls – for women – for all.