Despite progress in recent years, women are still largely excluded from economic opportunities, which harms global growth and resilience. A report from the World Economic Forum in 2022 found that, on average, women have only 76% of the economic opportunities, rights and protections afforded to men. In low- and middle-income countries, this gap is even wider, with women lagging behind men in terms of access to education, health care, finance, and digital technology.
The digital gender gap is a significant barrier to economic equity. According to the International Telecommunication Union, women are 23% less likely than men to use mobile internet, and 33% less likely to have access to broadband internet at home. This disparity limits women’s ability to access digital education and training, find jobs, start businesses, and participate in the digital economy.
Closing the digital gender gap requires a concerted effort from governments, private sector, civil society, and international organizations. Some strategies that have proven effective include the promoting of digital literacy and skills training for women and girls. This includes providing affordable and accessible training programs in digital technology, coding, and entrepreneurship, as well as mentorship and networking opportunities. Also, increasing access to affordable and reliable broadband internet is important. This requires investing in digital infrastructure, reducing regulatory barriers, and providing subsidies or incentives for low-income households. The private sector should be encouraged to adopt gender-sensitive policies and practices. This includes promoting diversity and inclusion in hiring and leadership, addressing gender bias in algorithms and artificial intelligence, and developing products and services that meet the needs of women and girls. As far as the government is concerned, collecting and analyzing gender-disaggregated data on digital access and use would help identify gaps and monitor progress towards closing the digital gender divide.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recognized the importance of closing the digital gender gap as part of its broader efforts to promote gender equality and economic growth. In 2023, the IMF approved its first comprehensive Gender Strategy for Mainstreaming Gender, which aims to apply a gender lens to its policies and programs, and support members in deploying pro-gender equality policies that are tailored to their unique circumstances. By closing the digital gender gap and promoting economic equity for women, Cambodia can unlock significant dividends for global growth and resilience. Studies have shown that closing the digital gender gap could globally add $13 trillion to global GDP by 2030. It is time to accelerate our efforts and ensure that women have equal access to the digital tools and opportunities that are essential for economic empowerment and inclusion.