By Emelda Siama John
The Plan International South Sudan yesterday launched online free learning platform for girls and young women called the state of the world’s girls 2021 also known as the truth Gap.
Addressing the media yesterday, the Advocacy and Communication Manager for Plan International Stella Drate said that the research included a landmark survey of over 20,000 girls and young women from 26 countries, which also found that exposure to lies had a profound impact on how they engaged with issues ranging from covid-19 to politics.
She stressed that there were dire consequences of misinformation on girls and young women. She called on government to educate the children and young people in digital literacy.
“False information is affecting their mental health, leaving them feeling stressed, presaged and anxious, in-depth interview carried out by plan international suggest that they are feeling unsafe because online exchange are increasing social tension within communities,” Drate said.
She revealed that others reported concerns about bogus events advertised on social media placed them at physical risk, or unreliable medical advice that could harm their health.
“Girls and young women from the low and middle income countries were more likely to be affected by unreliable or false information online and twice as likely to have question whether to get vaccine 31% than those in high income countries 16%,” she cited.
She stated that in the first large-scale global study to examine the gendered impact of misinformation and disinformation online, it was found that nearly nine in 10 (87%) of girls and young women thought it had a negative impact on their lives. According to her, the most trusted source was mainstream news media, selected by 48% above educational institution, family members and national governments.
George Otim, the country Director of plan international South Sudan said that the global report had raised alarming issues around misinformation and disinformation that was hindering girls from realizing their full potential.
“In South Sudan context, the internet accessibility is still a big issue despite number of other challenges girls are facing. It’s a high time to think and provide access and increase the digital literacy for girl’s empowerment before it is being too late, we cannot wait until girls have internet access to think about making online space safe. Therefore we call upon the government, all the stakeholders, and corporate world to take immediate action to increase children and young people digital literacy, so they have knowledge, skills and strategies to confidently engage in online space, access information,” Otim said.