Women’s Rights Online in the Dominican Republic: Measuring Progress, Driving Action

© Arne Hoel / World Bank, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Web Foundation and our Women’s Rights Online partners in the Dominican Republic have just released the latest scorecard in the Women’s Rights Online Digital Gender Gap Audit series. The scorecard examines the current state of policy efforts toward enabling and empowering women online and, specifically, toward achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

The scorecard — released yesterday at a multistakeholder event in Santo Domingo — assesses the country’s policy around five key challenges to full digital inclusion:

  1. Women’s online access and empowerment
  2. Relevant content and services
  3. Online security
  4. Affordability
  5. Digital skills and education

How does the Dominican Republic fare when it comes to protecting and promoting women’s rights online?

The scorecard finds that though the Dominican Republic does quite well on measures of women’s online access — women represent more than 50% of internet users in the country — it has quite a way to go when it comes to improving digital skills among women and girls, and producing local, relevant content. Affordability also remains an issue, with 1GB of data costing around 4% of the average citizen’s monthly income — a figure that is likely to be significantly higher for women, who traditionally earn much less than their male counterparts.

Putting policy into practice

The scorecard reiterates findings from the UN that ICTs, with their potential to provide better medical care, education, social mobility and improved governance for women, are central to achieving the SDGs. Realising these ambitious development goals will require nations to prioritise policies to enable universal, affordable access to the internet and — as women comprise the majority of those offline across the globe — policies that are gender-responsive and work to overcome the obstacles keeping women offline.

Recommendations

The scorecard outlines a plan of action for closing the digital gender gap in the Dominican Republic, with a number of concrete recommendations, including:

  • Incorporate gender considerations in the design, implementation and evaluation of ICT policies, and set concrete, measurable goals toward improving women’s online access and use;
  • Facilitate access and affordability to quality broadband internet for all, with a focus on female-headed homes, women with disabilities, female teachers, and rural women;
  • Guarantee digital skills training in school curricula to improve women’s online use and to encourage women and girls into STEM;
  • Incorporate information on sexual and reproductive health and other fundamental rights of women and girls in the online materials of governmental institutions;
  • Ensure that online gender-based violence is considered in the legal framework, and that law enforcement and state institutions are trained to combat violence against women online effectively

For more updates from Women’s Rights Online and other initiatives, follow us on Twitter at @webfoundation

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