3 hours. That’s how long it used to take me to drive the local women’s group I worked with in rural Kenya from their village to the nearest bank -- 15 years ago. When I visited these women a few months back, I watched as they electronically transferred money via their smart phones to their bank accounts in a matter of minutes. Technology is clearly a key ingredient in the economic empowerment of girls and women. Learning to utilize today’s technologies can lead to new economic, entrepreneurial and educational opportunities; and they are rapidly making life simpler and more efficient.
Technology also creates prospects for social and personal change. Two 14-year old girls in Egypt who participated in an Intel digital literacy program were tasked with the goal of using the technology skills they had learned to address a local issue in their community. They came up with a plan to fight illiteracy in their community, started a program, and received government funding to pay a teacher to run it. The girls learned that they can be decision makers, and that they have the power to change lives.
Despite the opportunities technology creates for enhancing economic activity and improving productivity, a technology divide exists. This is particularly salient for girls and women. In most emerging markets for example, women lag behind men in using the Internet, mobile phones, and radios. For example, women are estimated to account for just 25 percent or less of Internet users in Africa, 22 percent in Asia, 38 percent in Latin America, and a mere 6 percent in the Middle East.
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