Can the Digital Revolution Promote Gender Equality?



Ridhi Kashyap, Associate Professor of Social Demography, Nuffield College, University of Oxford

The rapid proliferation of the internet and mobile phones has been one of the most significant social phenomena of the new millennium. In this talk, I will discuss the implications of this digital revolution for the realization of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 5 on gender equality. First, drawing on Demographic and Health Survey data linked with geo-spatial satellite data in Sub-Saharan Africa, I will present findings that show how the ownership of mobile phones has empowered women to access information and resources important for health and well-being and bolstered their ability to make independent decisions. This suggests the need to monitor and close digital gender gaps to promote sustainable development. Monitoring this progress however is often challenging due to the limited availability of gender-disaggregated data on internet and mobile access, particularly in low-income countries. In this data-sparse context, I will describe how data on online populations of Facebook and Google, available via their marketing application programming interfaces (APIs) can be repurposed to track global digital gender gaps.

The papers that will be discussed can be found here ("Leveraging mobile phones to attain sustainable development") and here ("Monitoring global digital gender inequality using the online populations of Facebook and Google").

Ridhi Kashyap is an associate professor of social demography at the University of Oxford and professorial fellow of Nuffield College. Her research spans topics in demography and sociology related to population dynamics and human development, with a significant focus on different manifestations of gender inequality. As co-leader of the strand on digital and computational demography at Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, her work advances the use and applications of digital and computational innovations in social research, and examines the implications of digital technologies on demographic and development outcomes.

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