A working group consisting of parliamentary representatives from 17 countries at the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, led by First Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Committee for Science, Education and Culture Liliya Gumerova, has discussed the development of Internet technology and identification of associated threats.
Gumerova reported that the working group meeting had looked at ways in which modern technology should serve democracy and increase the rights and opportunities afforded women today. “The participants were almost unanimous in the view that the Internet and modern technology results in greater opportunities for women. At the same time, key problematic areas were highlighted. Firstly, in not all countries of the world is it possible to obtain a decent standard of education in this sphere. Secondly, the threats inherent in the Internet environment must be acknowledged. Russia has its own experience to share in this regard. It is essential to compare our judicial practices. Today’s delegation raised the possibility of implementing model judicial practices in this area,” said Gumerova.
Participants told the group that in Argentina very few women are trained in IT or computer skills. Eighty-five per cent of workers in this sector are men. Parity can only be achieved by promoting the education of women specifically in IT skills and motivating young people and women to become involved.
India is introducing IT programmes into the lives of ordinary people, increasing the use of the Internet in the agricultural sector, even in remote areas. The country sees a large number of mobile telephones and other gadgets imported from Hong Kong and China, but meanwhile is intent of developing its own digital technologies. The representative from the Indian parliament made the point that the expansion of digital technologies also leads to an increase in cybercrime.
The parliamentary representative from Latvia noted that women are rarely brought in to create content for Internet and other programmes. As a consequence, women remain as end users, and not creators, which in turn is depriving the younger generation of the opportunity to “draw inspiration from the example set by women leaders”. Only 24% of IT specialists in Latvia are women, in a sector which is clearly male-dominated. Social research has shown that people are largely of the opinion that only men are capable of heading large-scale projects – and a large number of women share this view.
The parliamentary representative from Thailand told the meeting that the country is currently implementing its 4.0 initiative for the introduction of telecommunications technology in all areas of life, which will give women access to education and the option of working in the IT sector.
In Portugal, girls are nervous of taking technology classes at school and few choose to study technology-related subjects. “Many girls get drawn in by online job adverts, only to end up as victims of human trafficking. Our laws and legal systems need to answer this challenge,” said the Portuguese representative.
In China, the rural population has full access to the Internet. There are more than 600 million smartphone users in the country. Internet trade has superseded the USD 3 trillion mark, and continues to grow.
In Turkey, women are encouraging the development of the Internet as a way to improve their own status, whilst at the same time encountering the problem of overdependence on technology.
The parliamentary representative from Iran believes that the growth in Internet and technology usage is promoting women’s rights. Iran has already seen a series of laws adopted in connection with overcoming inequality in the field of technology.
Pakistan’s parliamentary representative considers the Internet to be a way for women to increase their financial means and compete with men. Internet platforms have been developed in the country to support female academics who are carrying out projects in statistics. Also in place are controls limiting child access to websites. In 2016, laws were introduced to deal with cybercrime and cyberattacks on individuals’ private lives. An online system for submitting complaints is being developed via the Senate website.
In Tunisia, women may work or receive education online, which is particularly important in remote areas and conflict zones.
In Indonesia, more than 130 million people use the internet. The parliamentary representative observed the tendency for online information to become distorted and noted the necessity for rooting out chauvinism, discrimination, and the distribution of pornography.
The South African parliamentary representative stressed the importance of dealing with the health risks to active Internet users, as children and pregnant women may suffer adverse effects from computer radiation.
The parliamentary representative from Chile stated that Latin American countries are aware of the need to facilitate access to the Internet and that the number of computers in the country’s state-run schools is growing.
Ireland is taking measures to combat “hate speech” on the Internet. Research has shown that 80% of Internet posts in Ireland are directed against women. This is particularly the case among young teenagers in the 13–14 age bracket.
Almost 10 million Finnish nationals live outside the borders of their own country. For them, the internet is a means of maintaining family ties. However, women are still unaware of who to turn to when they become victims of an online crime.
The Kingdom of Bahrain is proud of the equal rights between men and women which are enshrined in its constitution. Websites have been created where any woman who has been a victim of violence can inform the authorities of this crime via the Internet.
The representative from the Arab Parliament highlighted the need to draw up and implement ways to punish actions which are not officially recognised as crimes, and to expose all forms of online discrimination. Wage inequality between men and women must be fought, as must the unfair allocation of jobs in both the state and private sectors.