ISLAMABAD: Slamming the widest digital gender gap in Pakistan, speakers have urged the authorities to provide digital literacy and internet access to girls and women in urban and rural areas.

Panellists at the ’Tabadlab Policy Roundtable’ titled’ Digital Gender Inclusion Strategy on Tuesday discussed ways to enhance the PTA’s Digital Inclusion Strategy, which aims to bridge the gender gap in Pakistan’s digital sphere.

Samia Liaquat, Director of the Centre for Gender and Public Health, moderated a roundtable discussion on the GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report. The report revealed that women in Pakistan were 33pc less likely to own a mobile phone and 38pc less likely to use mobile internet than men.

She highlighted that inclusive policies and ICT initiatives are crucial to addressing this disparity. The discussion commenced with the general perception that the internet was not suitable for women.

The panellists discussed the recent PTA’s Digital Gender Inclusion Strategy. However, some experts argue that the current document falls short of delivering the vision of these institutions. Sadaffe Abid, founder and CEO of CIRCLE Women’s Association, stressed targeted interventions instead of formulating generic policies.

She added that the strategy should include targeted interventions that address the unique needs of various groups of women, as rural women may face different barriers compared to urban women.

Kalsoom Lakhani, Co-founder and General Partner i2i Ventures, supported the idea of capacity building and empowering women through digital literacy programmes, vocational training, and entrepreneurship support to enhance their participation in the digital economy.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2024

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