Online Training for All this International Women’s Day

international women's dayWelcome to Women’s History Month. Next week, on March 8th, the month gets off to a lively start with International Women’s Day (IWD). The theme for this year is “embrace equality,” which is explained on the official website as aiming to “…get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren’t enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.”

In recognition of this holiday, UN Women, the United Nations’ entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, has introduced its own 2023 theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.”

They further explain:

“The United Nations Observance of IWD recognizes and celebrates the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education. IWD 2023 will explore the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities.”

For some time, the UN has flagged digital technology as being one of the keys to creating gender equality. With the advancements made in this area due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to leverage developments in digital communication, eCommerce, remote work, and particularly, education and training.

Access to online training

“Each additional year of schooling can boost a girl’s earnings as an adult by up to 20 percent.” – United Nations, 2022

In 2019, the global primary school completion rate was estimated at 85 percent, up from 70 percent in the year 2000. The challenge now is to reach the women who have completed this level of education and have a desire for further learning.

Online training is making this aspiration a reality. The story of Esraa, a 21-year-old from Upper Egypt, highlights how access to online training can provide women with new skills. They can choose from a wider variety of courses and are not restricted to offerings from local education institutions. Other benefits include reduced costs in commuting (depending on internet access), and availability of textbooks online, which incur no additional costs.

When we think about access to education, women in underdeveloped nations often come to mind first. However, greater access to online training is also benefiting women in developed countries. Women who would have otherwise not been able to access further education due to their current circumstances (whether it be caring responsibilities, financial constraints, or commuting issues) are now able to upskill with flexible, affordable training from the location of their choice.

Online training for all types of learners

Access to education is only one piece of the puzzle. Online training also needs to be inclusive, with structures and software enhancements that support a wide range of learning needs. Through accessibility features such as closed captions and transcripts, screen reader compatibility, and language translation options, users can choose the best methods for their interaction with the learning material. As access to online training for women increases, it’s important to ensure effective practices for a diverse range of learners are also included.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is a reminder that access to online training (which for many of us is part of our every day) can change the direction of a woman’s life. Online training can give women the skills, knowledge, and qualifications to increase their employability and enter professions that would have otherwise been out of reach.

We hope you join us in celebrating this special day and honoring this theme for the month (and hopefully well beyond).