Choosing a career in technology has been one of the best decisions I have made. It is an enabler in many ways. In my own profession, that is space technology, I am able to promote and outreach to youth across the country using the internet/digital platforms, especially social media. Even during the pandemic, Bhutan Space Week and other space promotion activities were a success because we engaged with girls and boys through Facebook, Instagram and BBS TV.
It is a grave concern that many of us are not digitally literate and thus become vulnerable to online risks. Especially, young girls fall victim to sexual cyber crimes endangering their personal safety and well-being. In addition, girls are also exposed to unhealthy content about their body, fashion, diet and lifestyle. This creates unrealistic standards for living and being a young woman. It further leads to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Moreover, there are many people who use online platforms for marketing various products and services. However, these content are not filtered and censored. This is very dangerous for young girls and boys who are not equipped with the ability to filter digital content. Their innocence and ignorance could be exploited by others.
Firstly, we must have educational programs for all parents/guardians about safe digital exposure for their children. This is to ensure that young girls are not misguided in the first place. Then, young women (especially teenagers and young adolescents) should be given a platform where they are able to network with possible role models and other women. Only by building a community that is safe and respectful of women and their rights will enable young women to feel safe. This is relatable to the real world as well.
Further, we must have more healthy digital content produced and shared online so that we can surpass the negative discourse. Women’s organizations should come together to launch more campaigns and online discussions. This will help to create a healthy environment for women to talk about women’s issues and take ownership of individual rights. Also, there must be a platform where young internet users, especially women, can lodge complains about online sexual harassment and bullying. If anyone feels that their rights are being violated through digital platforms, we should ensure that they have a place where they can raise their voice.