International Day of the Girl
Twenty-five years ago, about 30,000 people from nearly 200 countries met in Beijing, China, for the Fourth World Conference on Women, and recognized women's rights as human rights. The conference culminated in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most comprehensive policy agenda for advancing equal rights of not only women but including girls, too.
The Platform for Action calls for a world where every girl and woman can recognize that women’s rights are human rights, such as living free from violence, attending and completing school, choosing when and whom she marries, and earning equal pay for equal work.
As a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns, 95% of enrolled students (approximately 154 million children and adolescents) in Latin America and the Caribbean are learning remotely instead of in the classroom. No public educational system was prepared for this. And in an ecosystem of virtual education built to ensure children learn, grow, and thrive, girls are particularly marginalized and vulnerable as the gender gap on their access to technology and connectivity continues.
At Millicom, our business purpose is to build digital highways that connect people, improve lives, and develop communities. We take this role seriously, now more than ever. And we focus on the safe and productive use of technology by children, day in and day out.
The abrupt move toward online environments presents challenges beyond connectivity. The risks associated with the accelerated use of technology have increased in recent months, as more young girls log online without proper counseling by adults, be it their parents who may not be originally digitally inclined, or teachers who may lack the technical skills or resources to accompany children during this transition. According to Plan International, 50% of girls experience more bullying online than in the physical world, impacting their self-esteem and performance in school. Moreover, online bullying starts when girls are as young as 8 and peaks between the ages of 12 and 18 years old.
Our partnership with Plan International to promote the #ConnectedAndSafe campaign raises awareness on the risks and limitations that many girls across LATAM have with regard to the Internet and online education. Moreover, during the month of October, our CEOs, leadership teams, particularly female leaders, will mentor the girls of Plan International on how to fulfill their goals and aspirations and invite the girls to “take over” the role of CEOs in leading business meetings.
Our work with Plan International supports our Corporate Responsibility goals of ensuring our technology continues to create positive impacts for the people in our communities. Conectate Segur@ trains children, adolescents, families, and teachers on the safe and productive use of technology, and Conectadas aims to empower women by teaching them how to use technology to improve their lives and livelihood.
We also address the challenges which thousands of teachers face in adjusting to a new normal and giving guidance to girls. It is essential that teachers possess the skills and tools to transition to online education. Our newest program, Maestr@s Conectad@s, has provided training to more than 140,000 teachers throughout Latin America on how to use digital platforms to give online classes to their students with 21st Century tools.
The teachers reached through Maestr@s Conectad@s will be better equipped for this new world, beyond the duration of the pandemic. They will have the skills and the opportunity to motivate girls to stay in school and use technologies to further their growth and help all students shape a safer, better, and more prosperous future for themselves.
We are hopeful. While the current crisis has magnified the digital gaps that exist in our countries, it has also accelerated the need to find solutions and capitalize on the opportunities that exist to create a more accessible and equal world through technology.
By Silvia Garrigo
Corporate Responsibility Director
Millicom | TIGO
Millicom (NASDAQ U.S.: TIGO, Nasdaq Stockholm: TIGO_SDB) is a leading provider of cable and mobile services dedicated to emerging markets in Latin America and Africa. Millicom sets the pace when it comes to providing high-speed broadband and innovation around The Digital Lifestyle® services through its principal brand, TIGO. As of December 31, 2019, Millicom operating subsidiaries and joint ventures employed more than 22,000 people and provided mobile services to approximately 52 million customers, with a cable footprint of more than 11 million homes passed. Founded in 1990, Millicom International Cellular S.A. is headquartered in Luxembourg.