March 8 is International Women’s Day, and this year UN Women Australia’s 2023 theme is ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future’. This brings an opportunity for everyone to acknowledge the power of innovative technologies and systems in the advancement of women, who are marginalised globally and have a smaller presence in the digital world. We are also challenged to address the current barriers in place that keep women stagnant and play our small part to welcome women to move through society as comfortably as men.
Currently, there are around 250 million fewer women online than men around the world1. Digital access provides everyone with countless opportunities and pathways to success, and by making technology and digital education inclusive, women can play a greater role in the development of new digital solutions. UN Women Australia encourages this point, saying, “We must innovate to close the digital divide that keeps so many women offline and away from new opportunities.” With one in four Australians living without digital access, organisations such as Good360 Australia are working to supply digital means to communities, including women living in disadvantage, to provide hope and dignity.
Cracking the Code at Good360 Australia
As a not-for-profit organisation in Australia, we believe it takes a collective to create accessible technology and education to transform the futures of women and girls. We recognise statistically, women experience greater disadvantage and are more likely to live in poverty and work in low-paying occupations2, which is why we are proud to have programs such as Laptop Launchpad to provide our charity and school members with technology to get their communities digitally connected. Founder & Managing Director Alison Covington AM says, “Our network of charities are crying out for the technology and tools to bridge the digital divide in their communities. We know that the biggest impact we can have is reducing affordability barriers.” Along with the Laptop Launchpad program, we have also partnered with Optus to provide SIMs and mobile phones to Australians in need.
One of our members, Sero4, is currently running the MARA Project – a women’s re-entry prison support program helping them re-enter their community and move forward in a positive way. We are proud to have members like Sero4 empower at-risk women, fulfilling our mission to lift up all Australians with kindness.
“Multiple women were provided an Optus Mobile Phone and SIM card whilst trying to get their lives back on track … the connection is invaluable. This provides an opportunity for women to connect with support far and wide. The items provided a fast track in the women’s ability to move forward with tasks that she would not have been able to act without a mobile device or credit, given that income is usually very limited.”
– Sero4 (The MARA Project)
In addition to technology, societal and cultural systems must be reimagined to welcome equality. Inclusive innovation cracks the code to gender equality and drives change in all aspects of society. By creating inclusive spaces in STEM workplaces and education systems, women can have a greater impact on global transformations and investments. Statistically, innovations from a team that include at least one woman are proven to be more economically valuable and have higher impact than those with only men involved3, 4.
Within your social circles and workplaces, achieving gender equality takes every one of us to recognise the behaviours, beliefs, and systems, that carry rooted inequalities. By breaking down these barriers, we can live in an equitable world where everyone has the equal opportunity to advance and thrive.
Read more about this year’s International Women’s Day theme Cracking the Code here.
1 International Telecommunication Union, Gender Dashboard: Women in ICTs and Connectivity (2016) https://www.itu.int/en/action/gender-equality/data/Pages/ie.aspx?/en/action/gender-equality/data/Pages/default.aspx
2 Wheaton FV, Crimmins EM. Female disability disadvantage: a global perspective on sex differences in physical function and disability. Ageing Soc. 2016 Jul;36(6):1136-1156. doi: 10.1017/S0144686X15000227. Epub 2015 May 8. PMID: 27453613; PMCID: PMC4957517.
3 Dixon-Fyle, S., Hunt, V., Prince, S., & Yee, L. (2018). Delivering through Diversity. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity
4 Phillips, K.W. October 1, 2014. How Diversity Makes Us Smarter. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/