Kamla: Women need equal access to technology and the opportunities it provides

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Kamla: Women need equal access to technology and the opportunities it provides

Opposition leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar has extended her best wishes to the women of the nation, on the occasion of International Women’s Day today.

In a statement released last evening, Persad-Bissessar extended best wishes to all women across the globe, and, in particular, here in Trinidad and Tobago.

She said: This year’s theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”’ is of particular significance in a world that is emerging from the medical and economic ravages of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.

According to her release:
In the past three years, the crucial role that digital technology plays in the everyday lives of all human beings became most evident, as the world was forced to alter its way of doing business in almost every sphere. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has also exposed and exacerbated the fact that the ongoing, regressive gender gap that the world continues to grapple with extends to this critical digital sphere, with women being disproportionately affected by the shift to remote work and online learning.

As stated by the International Telecommunication Union, women are 8% less likely than men to own a mobile phone and 20% less likely to use the internet. This digital divide has significant implications for women’s access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. This is a critical issue that cannot be ignored, as women continue to face significant challenges in accessing and benefiting from technology.

It has now, therefore, become imperative for all Governments across the globe, and in Trinidad and Tobago in particular, to ensure that they implement policies as a matter of priority aimed at bridging the digital gender gap in our populations, while simultaneously leveraging technology and innovation to achieve gender equality.

Indeed, technology is perhaps one of the most powerful tools in our world today for advancing gender equality. Global statistics show that mobile technology has been used to improve maternal healthcare in remote areas, and online platforms have provided women with new opportunities for entrepreneurship and financial inclusion. By investing in technology and promoting digital literacy for women, we can unlock their full potential and create a more inclusive society.

Indeed, one of my proudest legacies remains the promotion of digital literacy in Trinidad and Tobago, via the ground-breaking E-Connect and Learn program that was implemented under my tenure as Prime Minister of T&T from 2010-2015. Under this visionary, globally pioneering program, all secondary school students were given a free laptop upon entering Form One, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of families across the country had access to digital connectivity and literacy.

Unfortunately, it was disbanded after I left office, setting the country back decades in terms of progressiveness, and causing the nation’s children to be the ultimate victims of this poor decision-making in the past three years. The fact remains that the only way our country can progress as a democracy is if we create a future where technology is a force for gender equality and empowerment.

To this end, I pledge to continue working towards ensuring that women have equal access to technology and the opportunities it provides. This means investing in digital infrastructure, promoting digital literacy, and addressing the root causes of the digital gender gap.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I urge every citizen to join me in this noble quest of achieving gender equality in our beloved Trinidad and Tobago. After all, equality of opportunity is essential for human progress, and women are unavoidably only the bridge between generations. Therefore, what we invest in women’s development as a society is ultimately the foundation upon which our future generations of both women and men will build.

Let us, therefore, work together to build a society and nation that is fair, just, and inclusive for everyone, in every sphere of life, for this is truly the greatest legacy we can bequeath to our children and posterity.