Posted: Monday, October 11, 2021. 5:30 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: “Take on the challenge as agents of change,” UNICEF Representative for Belize, Alison Parker, tells young girls on October 11, the International Day of the Girl. “Break the glass ceilings! Be innovative and ask questions. Stand up and speak up, and together, we can make a difference for every girl.”
Today UNICEF Belize joined the global community in celebrating the day as the International Day of the Girl under the theme: Digital Generation. Our Generation.
“One of the major shifts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, in Belize, has been the accelerated advancement of digital platforms for learning, empowering, earning, and connecting. Technology once perceived as luxury and leisure has now become the anchor on which we are keeping systems and processes afloat that are necessary for the functionality, continuity and productivity of our society.”
However, Parker acknowledged that there is too much disparity in the world and that women, girls, in particular, are at a huge disadvantage globally. He pointed out that in the world’s least developed countries the internet user gender gap is at 43 percent compared with 17 percent worldwide. He added that worldwide, the percentage of female graduates in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field is below 15 percent in over two-thirds of countries.
“Belize’s digital transformation will require more than increased connectivity,” Parker said.
“Girls must have equal access to devices. Girls must benefit from strategies to increase the education and training opportunities for them to acquire skills and qualifications in STEM subjects. Girls must benefit from gender equity measures that promote fair and unbiased employment opportunities in otherwise male-dominated fields.”
“Gender equity in digital literacy is a driver of economic growth and a national advantage on the road to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The growth and development of Belize’s innovation sector will require gender equity fostered through policies and programs to address gaps and amplify opportunities.”
Parker said that UNICEF joins the call to closing the gender digital divide – access to devices, connectivity, skills, safety. This will pave the way “for all girls, to live their full potential”, he concluded.
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