CPPG DISCUSSION PAPER: Bridging the Gender and Digital Divide in Post COVID-19 Pakistan: Empowering Women Through ICT

Digital technology opens up space for enormous economic opportunity and growth: can serve as a tool to bring about socio-political change, become an arena for entertainment, and serve as a medium for governance and law enforcement. From e-commerce and online banking to political revolutions and human rights agency, from online learning to remote robotic medical surgeries, all facets of human and societal life have been impacted by ICT. While the speed and efficiency for everyday tasks has improved, digital technology has also contributed towards both reducing inequality—enhancing the skills and livelihoods of some, and increasing it for some—making the social ladder steeper for others who do not have the right tools or accessibility. This paper attempts to decode the gender digital divide in Pakistan and explores the link between technology and human development. It evaluates the impact of Pakistan’s patriarchal culture on women’s access to technology including the issue of online harassment and argues that digital empowerment is a tool for human rights security. The study also comments on the nexus between education, economic empowerment and technological skills and how human capital development necessitates building digital literacy. Policy recommendations are provided based on three principles: expanding women’s digital capabilities through investments in education, improving their access to ICT tools and creating conducive environments for growth. 

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