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Digital Gender Divide in Covid-19

Online experiences have increasingly become critical for young people’s development including learning, access to information, participation in community activities, connecting with peers, looking for employment opportunities and bringing their unique voice and experiences to the table to enhance civic engagement. While the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for the youth to continue contributing to the global economy, it reemphasised the stark disparities of digital inclusion between communities.
Instances of gender inequality are being replicated and recreated in the digital world. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) report states more than 49% of women in the world are still offline. There is a huge gap in internet penetration for women and girls as compared to men and boys, as access to handheld devices and laptops is limited for women, and cyber literacy skills required to safely browse the internet are hugely missing. Cyber literacy has become an important skill set for employability as it increases economic opportunities and learning potential as well.

 

Digital Mitra – Empowering Girls with Digital Storytelling

Plan India believe in the power and voices of young people. Through our work with young people especially girls we know that their stories can create impact and positive change towards forming a gender equal world.  In tune with the efforts to address the gap in cyber literacy and enable girls to productively utilise the opportunities afforded by the internet, Plan India piloted Digital Mitra Project from January – March 2021 and trained 15 girl changemakers to create campaigns on common causes that impact their socio-economic well-being like girl education, digital divide, girl safety, child marriage and so on for effective storytelling using new digital tools, mobile journalism and smartphones.

Digital Mitra Phase – 1

During the three-month-long project, the girls were trained on how to edit photos and videos, develop script for videos, write blogs for social media channels, and use online spaces keeping in mind the safety and community standards to share their experiences and stories and build a community of girl changemakers who would further the cause of gender equality. The training sessions included workshops and panel discussions on campaign development, creation of engaging content to amplify gender equality, economic empowerment, climate change and gender, digital divide, cyber laws and so on by experts in the domain.

All the girls that took part in the sessions conceded that the Digital Mitra project has been very helpful in building their confidence to use phones for digital storytelling and have learnt how to take better photos and videos through the trainings. Only 30% of the girls in pre-needs assessment felt confident posting content on social media, but after the sessions around 95% stated they felt confident to do the same. Moreover, young girls shared that taking ownership of their stories and using the platforms to further empowerment of their communities will assist in shaping a positive outlook towards the role and importance of girls amongst other sections of the society including men and boys.

The post-assessment findings indicated the success and the scaling of the Digital Mitra pilot project. Building on the post assessment findings, the second phase of Digital Mitra has been initiated that will engage with 200 young girls as Digital Mitra covering 6 states including Delhi, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Orientation of the Digital Mitra Girls

Girl in a jacket

Training sessions of the Digital Mitra Girls

Girl in a jacket

Digital Mitra Phase – 2

The second phase of the programme is envisioned to train the girl changemakers from Plan India communities on using smart phones for story-telling through digital media on the issues affecting them and in their surroundings. Simultaneously, the girls will also be also provided with in-depth information on the safe and right use of social media platforms so that later they participate in creating positive content and campaigns promoting for gender equal world.

Key Programme Objectives

  • Build capacity of girls on use of mobile phone for story telling on the issues focussing mainly on gender equality
  • Build capacity and train them on safe use of social media
  • Provide them direction and knowledge in creating campaigns on gender related issues
  • Provide them direction on creating positive and right based solutions on the identified issues
  • Creating master trainers by building their capacities in training other girls in the communities

 

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