There can be no doubt that digital technologies progressed globally and are transforming societies in all aspects ranging across connectivity, financial inclusion, public services, health, education, trade and commerce, media communication, transportation. The world is increasingly becoming more and more faceless, paperless and cashless.
Yet, digital divide is the fact of life all over the world. There has been tremendous progress in digital revolution, but a meaningful, high-quality digital experience is beyond the reach of billions of people. In digital development, there have been expansion, but not necessarily inclusion. The tide of digital revolution has lifted boats – but not all boats, and not to the same extent. For example, the digital divide between men and women is quite disperse, preventing women from taking advantage of the digital revolution. Thus, digital divide has contributed to significant overall disparities in the society. But digital development, is managed properly, is a powerful equalizing factor in overall economic and social development. Given this context, it is absolutely necessary to look at, both analytically and practically, at the critical importance of equitable access to digital development as a major determining factor for ensuring equitable development.
In collaboration with Dr. Selim Jahan, the former Director of the Human Development Report Office of UNDP in New York, a2i is facilitating the development of a proposed report titled, ‘Equality through e-quality’. It attempts to build an analytical framework linking e-quality with equality; assess the digital development and the access of poor and marginal people; identify the constraints to equitable access to it and their implications for equitable development; highlight the policies and institutional frameworks to overcome those constraints. The report addresses the gender inequality in digital development and its consequences on overall inequalities and remain sensitive to environmental sustainability.
The Equality through e-quality report is intended to be an analytical report as well as a policy-oriented report. It will be a report for Bangladesh, as it is intended to foster policy debates within the country, but it will also be a report of Bangladesh as it represents Bangladesh’s contribution to global thinking and dialogues.