Exploring the 2023 IWD theme with a rural lens
On Wednesday 8 March, to coincide with International Women's Day, we were joined by Amanda Kelly - CEO from Women’s Health North East (WHGNE) - to explore the UN Women's 2023 IWD day theme Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future.
Amanda discussed the connection between digital inclusion and gender equity and what the barriers are especially for women and girls living in rural areas.
Staff and students celebrated International Women’s Day at the Department of Rural Health with guest speaker Amanda Kelly from Women’s Health North East (WHGNE).
Lifting women and girls out of poverty, increasing opportunities to contribute and connect, fostering equitable access to technology and safer online spaces has become integral to the achievement of gender equality, said Amanda.
From simple admin tasks to accessing health and financial services, she described how digital adoption and technological literacy can heavily impact the ease of which a person moves through life.
When applying a rural lens to this year's IWD theme, Amanda highlighted the following:
- Women living in rural and remote areas have lower rates of digital adoption but rely on technology to engage and access fundamental services like healthcare
- With already limited options for accessing healthcare, the introduction of telehealth isn’t always accessible, even if they have the capacity to access it
- With blackspots across our regions, women and girls in remote places might be unable to access the internet at all
Efforts to improve digital literacy in rural areas can have a positive impact on women and their families and community. Therefore, the following resources suggested by WGHNE are some ways people from rural areas can further their digital literacy skills:
- Rural Women Online have developed free and practical pathways to support women to building digital skills and becoming connected
- Startup Shakeup provides digital and startup training to small businesses in North East Victoria, allowing a safe place to explore at own place while operating the business
- Women’s Health Goulburn North East eLearning platform is building the capacity of workers and organisations across Victoria to apply a gendered lens to their work. They have launched courses such as Digital Inclusion and Gender Equity. The platform provides a space for informal, self-directed learning on a range of topics relating to gender equality
WHGNE recognise that there is not a one size fits all approach to solve these issues and there are different ways that we need to improve access for rural women. As part of their work and advocacy for rural women, WHGE are advocating at state and federal level to improve access to infrastructure across the regions.
We are deeply appreciative of the time Amanda and WHGNE took to speak to our staff and students about the 2023 IWD theme, how this impacts women and girls in living rural communities and to consider how we can apply a gendered lens to our work.
Women’s Health Goulburn North East is a feminist organisation, leading change towards women’s empowerment, women’s health, the prevention of violence against women and ultimately, gender equality, in rural and regional Victoria.