St Kitts and Nevis is urging the international community to do more to help countries in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa close the digital divide as efforts to enhance gender equality are pursued.
Islean Phillip, Minister of State responsible for Gender Affairs, who was speaking at the 67th Session for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67), noted that the new government in the twin-island federation has made significant strides in proactively appointing women as leaders in Parliament, statutory boards and corporations
The meeting is the United Nation’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment and is being held under the priority theme “Innovation and Technological Change, and Education in the Digital age for Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls.”
Phillip said the government has also enjoyed success in shaping inclusive cultures and representational spaces for women and girls in information and communication technologies (ICTs) as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
However, she noted that globally, there is a disproportionate impact of the unequal distribution and ownership of innovative technology and intellectual property.
“Where North America, Asia, and Europe comprise most of the world’s IT industry with a collective share of 88 per cent leaving Africa and Latin America with six and five per cent respectively of global tech industry distribution, any effort to leverage digital technologies for the enhancement of women and girls must recognise that the spread of opportunities for transformation is unfairly limited for developing countries.”
According to the junior Kittitian minister, with an apparent disparity by some member states to realize the full potential for the development of digital technologies, the corresponding ripple effects negatively impact women and girls who live in small island developing states as challenges in accessing better healthcare, job opportunities, and financing.
“As we dialogue and table recommendations for prioritizing digital equity to close digital divides, including the gender digital divide, I urge us to acknowledge that digital equity also requires a geopolitical lens that magnifies divides between the developed and the developing countries as distinguished by unequal creation and distribution of technologies,” Phillip added.
She said the government’s introduction of the one laptop per child initiative would help St. Kitts and Nevis leverage digital technologies for 21st-century teaching and learning by equalizing access between boys and girls and across social and economic class divides.