Digital ambassador programme: Amplifying women’s voices for change
Coding, Digital literacy, Digital safety, E-learning, Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Leadership, Networking, Skills development, Teaching materials, Women
Advocacy and coalition-building, Career counselling and professional development
Today, women comprise the majority of the unconnected population. The latest data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) indicates that there are about 250 million fewer women online than men, and the problem is more pronounced in developing countries. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) and digital skills can facilitate women’s entry into the labour market, enhance their community and political engagement, bring economic benefits to them and to society, and enable them to steer the future of technology.
Women and girls face myriad barriers to the internet, from availability of infrastructure to financial constraints. However, even when women have access to the internet, they are held back by a lack of digital skills and confidence in their own voices, low perceived value of the internet, and social and cultural norms that perpetuate gender stereotypes. Ensuring girls’ and women’s access to the Internet and the skills to use technology is of global importance in today’s technology-infused world.
Founded in 2003, World Pulse is equipping women and girl leaders to become digital ambassadors and trainers in their communities. With the belief that women need digital skills to shape the future of the world, this unique digital ambassador programme aims to amplify women’s voices for change, enabling them to use the internet to speak out and access connections and resources to further their social change work.
In 2017, a train-the-trainer programme was established to equip women leaders to become certified digital ambassadors. In this role, digital ambassadors empower other women and girls in their communities with digital training. The programme has equipped 115 women ambassadors in 25 countries with training skills, access to materials and leadership recognition.
The online training programmes introduce women and girls to a suite of digital skills and digital platforms to strengthen their voice and leadership and make more impact on the issues they care about. Skills gained include:
Social networking skills
Online movement building
Global peer support network of fellow women leaders
Safe, protected, online platform with global audience for greater visibility for their stories
Access to online safety and security training modules
Leadership badges for online community roles
World Pulse also offers global engagement opportunities on its platform. These invite women to grow their voice and leadership skills via calls for stories and coordinated actions to make on the ground impact on various timely issues, including economic empowerment, peace and security and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
A digital ambassador from Pakistan shares her experience: “I was a simple village girl always shy to write anything online, although my heart was full of women’s issues. When I joined World Pulse, I was taught to write down what was in my heart. I was given appreciation and recognition. Now, I have gained so many helpful connections I have grown my free school for girls and do digital training. I share women’s stories with the world online and I have self-confidence.”
Digital ambassador programme
Women and girls who demonstrate passion for digital skills can apply to World Pulse to receive training, toolkits and access to resources. Ambassadors may gain additional income, technology skills and leadership recognition. Trainings can be delivered via mobile phones or laptops in formal and informal settings such as living room settings, community centers, cyber cafés and under trees and tents worldwide.
Training content is tailored to the specific community and individuals, ranging from basic to advanced skill building. World Pulse’s curriculum includes information about job search, finding resources, social networking, storytelling, coding and online safety as well as familiarisation with various platforms. Trainers impart confidence by demystifying the web, sharing their own personal stories of benefit, and encouraging women and girls to claim their identity and voice online.
Across 25 countries, World Pulse’s ambassadors have taught digital skills to 40,000 women and girls in their communities, with a goal to reach 100,000 by 2020. They motivate women to grow their digital voice and leadership skills, access resources and build an online support network.
A survey of ambassadors reported a 68% increase in digital knowledge and skills, 76% increased confidence in their voice, and 77% took action in their community as a result of their engagement. With a network of 66,000 members from 190 countries, World Pulse has impacted 12 million lives worldwide.
Providing access to technology for women contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 5, which calls to “enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women”. Internet access is a gateway for women to increase income potential, access education and health services, and participate in social, economical and political spheres.
Engage local women and girls in disseminating any technology solution in communities as female digital trainers are more relatable and less intimidating to women and girls than male trainers
Seek out women digital ambassadors in communities to provide culturally relevant training to women and girls participating in the programmes
Learn more about the state of digital skill building globally and support key gaps by reading reports and recommendations.
EQUALS Research Group. 2018. Taking stock: Data and evidence on gender equality in digital access, skills and leadership. Preliminary findings of a review by the EQUALS research group.
Geneva, International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Bridging the digital gender divide: Include, upskill, innovate. Paris, OECD.
World Pulse. Digital empowerment Trainer’s Toolkit. Portland, Oregon, World Pulse.