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Web Foundation report highlights gender inequality in ICT

You may have seen that last week, the World Wide Web Foundation published its Web Index 2014-15.

The study spanned some 86 countries, and highlighted large degrees of censorship of the web, with over half of those in the world who are online having their web browsing rights severely restricted, not to mention privacy concerns and mass surveillance of the web.

The report also looked at gender equality, with some alarming findings in this respect. The Web Foundation pointed to the fact that 16 per cent less women than men get to use the internet in emerging nations, and only 30 per cent of countries covered by the Web Index report scored better than a five in terms of “implementing concrete targets for gender equity in ICT access and use”. Indeed, almost all the countries who did score better than a five are high income nations which already have high levels of gender equality across their society.

In other words, where action needs to be taken, it isn’t being, though some countries with major women’s rights problems did get the thumbs up for prioritising gender equality in terms of their IT landscape, namely Estonia, Turkey and Tunisia.

The report also noted that women are taking action themselves, and not just waiting for the government to take steps, with women in more than 60 per cent of countries using the web to “claim and exercise their rights to a moderate or extensive degree”.

The Web Foundation also touched on the issue of “revenge porn” which has become a more common occurrence this year, with some nations being quick to bring in laws to stop the practice, including Israel and 12 states in the US. However, much of this regulation has been criticised as being too wide sweeping, and indeed Arizona’s law was recently suspended due to concerns of breaching free speech.