Inclusive digitalisation as an opportunity
Digitalisation can improve access to health services and information worldwide, as long as social and gender inequalities are not exacerbated by technology.
Particularly in rural areas, women have less access than men to digital resources such as mobile devices and the internet. Women might therefore be disadvantaged by health-sector digitalisation.
Decision-making in the health sector sometimes uses large amounts of data from mobile devices. Different access conditions may mean such data is predominantly from male users. This needs addressing because distorted data may otherwise lead to erroneous decision-making, putting women at a major disadvantage.
Information and communication technologies (ICT)
Taking these factors into account, information and communication technologies (ICT) can contribute in many ways to improving the health of women and girls worldwide.
- Telemedicine uses ICT to enable information to be shared between health professionals and patients for diagnosing and treating disease as well as for training health professionals, with no restrictions on distance, space or time.
- ICT can thus contribute greatly to achieving universal healthcare.
- Data collection is made possible via ICT, also as gender-specific information. New scientific knowledge can then be acquired, early warning systems enabled and inequalities and needs identified that have not yet been addressed within health sectors.
Examples of use:
Examples are signposting apps for public toilets, software that helps schools self-assess their sanitary facilities and provides specific, practical recommendations for improvements,x as well as monitoring and optimising sanitary facilities to ensure, for example, that latrines are emptied when needed.
Why access to the internet is unequal
300 million fewer women than men worldwide have access to the mobile internet.x One reason is that women and girls have relatively less access to mobile devices due to gender-specific role models within families.
Moreover, gender inequalities mean women, more often than men, lack the financial resources to afford internet access. Such gender inequalities include women being paid less than men for the same work.
Furthermore, the many unpaid tasks, such as care work, assigned to women by society mean they have less time for gainful employment.