Digitalization is one of the defining processes of our time and as such touches all areas of life. It is often perceived as a helper, a simplifier, and an opportunity to improve the status quo - whether in education, administration, for companies, or for private individuals. But how far does the potential for change (and improvement) of digitalization extend? Can it also have a positive effect in the social sphere? Or is it just the reason why couples tied to their smartphones sit silently opposite each other in a café? Can it open up new opportunities for participation and advancement for currently less privileged groups?
Women make up just under half of the world's population. Gender equality is a universal human right and part of the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Yet the reality of life for many women and other marginalized groups is still very different today - they are often denied education, healthcare and participation in society. Women are less likely than men to own land, more likely to work in the low-wage sector, and more likely to experience poverty. Globally, the situation is not equally problematic everywhere, and it is also clear that progress is already being made. Nevertheless, we must not rest on our achievements to date (in industrialized nations and in Germany as well), because there is still a need for action.
In Germany, equality before the law has been achieved. Actual equality in everyday life is still a work-in-progress: for example, the gender pay gap is only slowly beginning to close, the proportion of women in top management positions in the private sector has barely risen since 2008, and only one-third of business start-ups in Germany are attributable to women (a detailed report on equality in Germany here).
As is so often the case, digitalization is the beacon of hope for some. Some think the digital revolution could also contribute to a different kind of change and accelerate the creation of actual equality. But is that just wishful thinking? Or does digitalization actually offer opportunities for equality?