In July, we held a workshop, “Starting them Young”, for girls to help build their digital literacy skills and use these to tackle social issues.
Understanding the problem of the digital divide
Indonesia is one of the largest and most populous countries in the world; it is also the fastest growing country in terms of internet use. However, with a stubborn digital gender gap, using and benefitting from the web is not yet a privilege enjoyed by everyone.
For example, according to the World Wide Web Foundation’s Women’s Rights Online report, only 20% of women have access to the internet across Indonesia, of which only 5% use it express their views and 26% to find critical information about their rights. And with only 52% of the country’s secondary schools connected to the web, many young women face tremendous barriers to access.
In local communities, some youth education centres provide access to computers and the internet, though there is a lack of widespread and supported ICT education in the country. Making matters worse, the Indonesian government has removed IT education from school curricula. Additionally, most efforts to increase digital education are “voluntary, incidental, and sporadic”, conducted mainly by universities, and benefitting mostly teens and university students.
From these realities, we’ve identified at least three important actionable points:
- First, there is strong interest from young people to learn more about digital ICT.
- Second, the non-standardised and uncoordinated programmes that exist are not sufficient to fill the substantial digital education gap.
- Third, there is a need to address the digital gender gap – especially in IT education – in order to promote women’s empowerment. This requires investing early on in their formative education.
Bridging the gap to empower girls and women with ICT
Recognising these issues, the Jakarta Lab partnered with Goethe-Institut Indonesien and PASCH on a project designed to strengthen girls’ and young women’s digital literacy skills and teach them how to combat gender-based violence online.
In July, we held a workshop and public forum with 22 female students, to build up their skills in understanding, analysing, and visualising open data so they can better advocate for issues close to their hearts:
Building the foundations of digital literacy
At the “Starting Them Young” event, participants discussed social issues such as how digital media has changed our world, the importance of digital literacy for women, and challenges around data collection, privacy and cyberbullying. Key takeaways included the need for digital literacy to identify the reliability of online sources and combat fake news, hoaxes, and online discrimination, as well as to understand what “consent” means when using online platforms and services.
“We do not get access to Internet for free.
We give our data in exchange.”
“Those who have the privilege to access the Internet should use it for the betterment of the society.”
The role of digital literacy in governance was also discussed, with Novi Wahyuningsih from the President’s Office (KSP) introducing Satu Data Indonesia, and Dwi Febri from Banda Aceh explaining the differences between information and data, different types of data, and how to find and use open data. The girls also learned about data visualisation from Moerat Sitompul from Tempo. Through these workshops, the participants produced several posters and infographics tackling social issues and using government data available online.
Taking steps toward digital literacy
We believe that to address the digital gender gap better, we need to start building the digital literacy of girls (and boys) early on — for example, by incorporating it back into the school curriculum and teaching students to become responsible and knowledgeable about data, digital media, and their impact. This national-scale change won’t happen quickly, so in the meantime, others must undertake programs that build skills of girls and women, such as the “Starting Them Young” workshop. At the Jakarta Lab, this is definitely something we’re keen to keep on doing.