Since its creation in 1990, the internet has become a huge part of our society, and its importance continues to grow every day. The United Nations have declared equal access to technology a critical element for sustainable development, and have specifically called attention to the need for women to have equal access to these technologies. The spread of mobile information and communications technologies and social media platforms provide women with numerous opportunities to form communities. They can even be used as tools to address violence against women and girls and to address inequalities women face. However, the same technologies are also being used as tools to harm women and girls.
SAFP works with women’s self-help groups that empower women through weekly meetings and discussion on a variety of topics. This week, several of the women’s self-help groups discussed cybercrime and ways for women to protect themselves and their families against cybercrime as part of a continued effort to empower women. They discussed safety measures such as: not clicking suspicious links, being cautious to only make payments on secure sites, being on the lookout for internet connected devices such as hidden cameras in change rooms or bathrooms or skimmers on ATMs, reporting cybercrime big or small, and educating children about cybercrime.
Though cybercrime may not immediately come to mind as a “Women’s Issue”, it must be addressed in order for women and girls to have equal access to important technologies, so that they can access equal opportunities. As communications technologies become increasingly important, they must also be made safer for everyone to use. As long as women and girls are at a disproportionate risk of being a victim of cybercrime, they are held back from reaching their full potential. Educating women on the risks and methods of prevention is an important way forward.