In the continually evolving world, technology marks its presence almost everywhere. Bringing upon a number of opportunities to our plate, the digital revolution has been impacting lives and economies. Among all the roles technology plays, how much does it really contribute to women empowerment?
Empowerment, by definition, means taking control of oneself, which comes from the availability of choices. Brought upon by the dominance of the patriarchal system, it is the choices that women often lack, eventually impacting a country’s overall economy. With women comprising about 49.4% of the Bangladeshi population, their labour force participation is essential for a sustainable economic growth. As efforts to achieve that growth, Bangladeshi Government and NGOs are working jointly for the extensive empowerment of women. As Bangladesh is also moving towards realizing the dream of Digital Bangladesh, the female population has a significant part to play in it. Recognizing the country’s efforts in promoting women empowerment, Global Gender Gap Index 2021, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked Bangladesh 65th out of 156 countries, retaining its position as the best performing South Asian country for the seventh consecutive year.
These steps towards an equal society are being immensely fueled by the increase in global digitalization. The multifaceted technology in the form of social media and Instant Messaging (IM) apps has served women with choices and opportunities. Digitalization has facilitated setting up of online-based businesses, entitling women to independence. The society as a whole may be yet to fully come to terms with the idea of women empowerment, however, technology catalyses the process. Gender norms have associated women with the responsibility of rearing families, often holding them back from realising dreams. They may feel overburdened with responsibility, unable to break free from that loop and step out of the door, in the fear of shaming families.
Technology opens up the opportunity of remote working, aiding women to kick start their professional life within their comfort zone. Moreover, thanks to the booming digital economy, these girls get the opportunity of entrepreneurship, reflected by the hike in women led SMEs in Bangladesh. Women, regardless of location, can learn and also earn using the internet. Technology has also facilitated financial transactions through payment gateways while also serving immense networking opportunities through social media and IM platforms. Technology and women when combined build an expressway towards a Digital Bangladesh.
For leadership roles, execution of soft skills is as necessary as that of hard skills, often even more so. Communication, empathy and attention to detail – to name a few – are attributes a leader should ideally possess. My observation in this regard is that many women tend to inherently possess these soft skills. Moreover, a research by Korn Ferry has shown that women outperform men in 11 of 12 key emotional intelligences. Technology allows women to be exposed to these inherent skills while also brushing them up.
As entrepreneurs, connecting with clients and vendors requires extensive use of IM services, like imo, which has significantly escalated during the pandemic era. Not only have these apps enabled effective business communication, but have also allowed its users to maintain connections with friends, families and acquaintances despite distances. This accounts for networking opportunities for women, while also enabling them to master their soft skills through communication. Moreover, through videos and online classes, many women can learn skill development from professionals, enabling them to be more confident, competitive, and consequently, independent.
Be it self-development, career, or relationship building - technology is truly assisting women to gain more social achievements. With this technological revolution, we shall move forward towards our goal to achieve gender equality, for a society full of empowered women!Tech
* Gerret is Product Director, imo