Are women struggling to claim their right to a Digital Identity?

Over 45% of women in low income countries do not have a foundational ID – meaning barriers of information, access, ownership, societal expectations, and intersectionality remain to be overcome

Posted 12 September 2019 by

Is access to useful Digital Identity a feminist issue? Evidence is accumulating that it is – with Third World women at a particular disadvantage.

The sobering analysis comes via a new in-depth Medium article by three researchers, including a World Bank stat that in low income countries as many as 45% of female residents struggle to obtain a ‘foundational identity”.

In the piece, as part of their argument that Identity is a human right … a woman’s right, the authors go on to present evidence that “women are in need of identification credentials just as much, if not more, than men, but often struggle to obtain them”.

As a result, the authors state that, “ID systems being developed in a digital age need to be gender-sensitive to truly serve the identification needs of women and girls” – but that five barriers are in the way of this goal being achieved around information, access, ownership, “societal expectations” and “intersectionality” (i.e. diversity of race, ethnicity, class, income, geographic diversity).

“To ensure that digital ID programs truly serve women and girls, gender considerations must be examined throughout the program journey. Privacy, portability persistence and personal are necessary elements for digital identity systems to meaningfully empower and protect individuals,” the article concludes.

“Achieving the ambition of Digital ID depends on shifting the locus of control away from institutions and towards the individual.

“This is essential to safeguarding access and opportunities, and obtaining scale.”

The article is essentially a teaser for the upcoming annual ID2020 Summit next week (September 19th) in New York.

Set for New York City, September 19th

ID202 is a global push for equal access to Digital ID supported by the UNHCR, and which describes itself as “an annual convening of private sector companies, national governments, UN agencies, diverse non-profits, and distinguished members of academia who gather to explore the potentials, and challenges, of Digital Identity”.

Next week has a specific theme of exploring Rising to the Good ID Challenge.