WHY is bringing #broadband to every American even an issue today? With the global pandemic, which will be part of our way of life for the next couple of years, it is urgent that the US Congress and the Administration prioritize this much needed resource. I think access to #broadband should be a basic human right not a privilege.
Access to high-speed internet is vital in helping advance the rights of women, Filipinos, and the entire Asian American & Pacific Islander community. Sadly, universal broadband access has yet to be fully realized. The lack of broadband access experienced by many in our community impedes employment and educational opportunities while compromising the health and safety of women and families.
Robust, unfettered access to broadband networks can provide numerous benefits, including:
* Enhancing safety for women and girls. In cases of domestic violence or other abusive situations, high-speed internet access ensures quick connections to language services, abuse hotlines, and local law enforcement. Slower internet speeds can undermine access to these critical resources.
* Balancing work and family responsibilities. Particularly in a time when many are still working remotely due to Covid-19, broadband access is essential in keeping connected with work while still managing family responsibilities. That includes keeping kids engaged with online learning.
* Opening new employment opportunities for young women. A lack of broadband access can be a major hindrance for women seeking to enter the workforce, particularly for those interested in pursuing a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
* Helping AAPI-owned businesses succeed. For Filipina- or AAPI-owned businesses, insufficient broadband speeds can negatively impact their ability to compete in an increasingly global-and digital-marketplace. If we are going to give our businesses the tools they need to thrive, universal broadband access is key.
* Staying connected to telemedicine resources. Now more than ever, telemedicine is an important service that helps keep women and families healthy-especially in light of Covid-19 and the push by many physicians to use telemedicine as an alternative to in-person visits for routine health appointments. Slow internet speeds can make such services unworkable for too many families.
The internet is a powerful tool for all Americans, but particularly for women and the AAPI community.
It is time for Congress to step up and commit to expanding broadband access and investment, so no one is left behind. In hard-to-reach rural communities and historically underserved ones, a lack of broadband access is holding back women and AAPI communities from reaching their full potential. This has to change.
Congress must take bold action and expand our entire broadband infrastructure. They can start by updating existing programs that make broadband more accessible and affordable, and then examine creating new ones. The sooner all AAPI women are able to access high-speed internet services, the more rapidly our communities across the country will be able fully participate in the digital age.
Ms. Marily Mondejar is the CEO of the Filipina Women's Network.