While the internet is easily accessible to everyone, research shows that it is not gender equitable. Google’s report, Toward Gender Equity Online, identifies the core challenges to gender equity online and provides insights on creating a more representative internet.
The study suggests that key factors hindering women from going online are the ability to access the web, lack of relevant content and communities, privacy, and safety.
A lot of women cannot go online because they do not have free time or the permission to do so, and the internet is perceived as a distraction to their socially-accepted responsibilities. Agency, physical mobility, and time are also one of the many constraints limiting their ability to go online.
If they are able to connect to the internet, they are unable to find enough relevant content, as well as niche communities that support their needs and interests.
Women are also hesitant to participate in online discussions because they fear exposing their privacy and compromising their safety while browsing the web, which could lead to misinterpretation and online harassment, among others.
Even with the Philippines ranking as the 16th most gender equal country in the world and the most gender equal country in Asia according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, both studies suggest and recognize that there is still a need to give women fair opportunities and resources online.
Connecting women to opportunities
The study defines relevant content as content available in one’s local language and specific to their region. Even with the surge of available online materials, women are still struggling to discover channels that are highly relatable and useful to them, such as topics on money and livelihood, education and skill development, and health and wellness.
There is also a lack of female-centric online communities that can provide emotional support and information on socially-sensitive topics like motherhood and sexual health, among others.
Championing the Filipina’s potential
In the Philippines, the Digiskarteng Pinay project is helping Filipina women learn new skills in their own time, at their own pace, by pulling together upskilling videos on YouTube. The online program encourages women to learn and diversify their skill sets to provide for their families and grow as a member of the society. A joint initiative of various non-profit organizations, government agencies, brands, and local creators, the Digiskarteng Pinay YouTube channel houses curated local video content centered around upskilling and educational topics like family nutrition, recipe videos, financial literacy lessons, DIY craft tutorials, coding and technical skills, livelihood, and more.
“Women in the Philippines are smart, hardworking, and resourceful in their own right. That diskarte attribute is where the term digiskarte came from. This program aims to bring women online and connect them to the opportunities of the growing digital economy. We believe that there’s a great opportunity to use the Digiskarteng Pinay platform to promote a more gender equitable internet and provide them with better choices online centered around their needs,” said Gara Santos-Ontiveros, Google Philippines Industry Head.
Several women have already testified to how YouTube has provided them with opportunity to create their own livelihood. Among them is Jhoan, a simple housewife and mother of three, who found a source of income for her family through her newfound passion for turning used bottles and scraps into recycled crafts by watching videos on YouTube.
The study was conducted for over a year with nearly 4000 participants across the gender spectrum, including cis women, trans women and men. View the full report with executive summary on g.co/genderequityonline.