International Women’s Day: Ministry advocates protection for females in digital spaces
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection yesterday marked International Women's Day (IWD) with a call on Ghanaians to delve into emerging gender issues and put the spotlight on the importance of protecting women and girls in digital spaces.
A Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Francisca Oteng Mensah, who made the call, said women and girls could be protected in the digital space by addressing online and information and communications technology (ICT)-enabled gender-based violence and creating a safe space for women in the digital and technological field.
Mrs Mensah, who was addressing some women after a health walk to mark the day, further noted the need to design and implement policies to act on the critical factors that undermined digital development and the advancement of women's participation in spaces where decisions were made on digital matters.
One of such policies, she said, was the introduction of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) bias schools in the country.
“The introduction of STEM schools will help students develop key skills, including problem-solving skills, creativity, digital literacy and critical thinking. Seven STEM schools have so far been established and this is one of the measures being put in place by the government to ensure that we embrace equity and promote digital adoption and participation among girls and young women," Mrs Oteng Mensah said.
The deputy minister urged women and girls to make use of the toll-free line of the ministry, which is to help address issues relating to women and children.
"I encourage all to make good use of the innovative platforms by dialling 0800111222 and 0800800800 for the needed support," she added.
This year's IWD, commemorated on the theme: "DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for gender equality", was marked with a health walk from the Kwame Nkrumah Water Park Fountain to the Gender Ministry in Accra.
The IWD is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.
The walk brought together some staff of the ministry, market women, some women traditional leaders and representatives from the United Nations Office, the European Union (EU) and civil societies.
The theme explores the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities.
It also throws a spotlight on the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and addressing online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Charles Abani, in a speech read on his behalf by the UN Population Fund representative, Dr Wilfred Ochan, said the theme for this year's celebration was significant, as the world now grappled with how to employ new approaches to rebuild all aspects of development after the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that the UN was of a strong opinion that with concerted efforts, the persistence gender gap on digital access and barriers to women and girls’ participation in technology creation and governance could be changed.
"This is critical, as the new opportunities provided by digital technology, such as heightened voice and urgency, expansion of networks and advocacy, gender-responsive digital learning and tech-facilitated agricultural and value addition, access to health care, including sexual and reproductive, will benefit more women and other marginalised groups," Mr Abani said.
The Deputy Head of Delegation at the EU, Pieter Smidt Van Gelder, said there was the need for education and a change in the mindset that women did not belong at the front row of innovation and technological change.
"Women must be an integral part of shaping our increasingly digital world. And several already are, as we witness every day at the EU when interacting with strong and passionate Ghanaian women who drive change and innovation in their communities, country and continent," he said.
A number of organisations and institutions also organised various events to mark the day.
They included the Ghana Armed Forces, the Australian High Commission, which used the day to celebrate Women in Mining, the US Embassy in Ghana, which marked the day with a film festival on: “Women in Motion”, while the German International Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ) hosted a panel discussion.
GJA Greater Accra
The Greater Accra Chapter of the Ghana Journalists Association saluted all women journalists in the region on the day.
In a statement, signed by the Regional Chairman, Charles Benoni Okine, it said “as a chapter, it is oblivious of the pivotal role you play in news gathering and dissemination, sometimes at a peril to your lives, just to ensure that we get the news”.
“The chapter is not only proud of your exploits but also wishes to encourage you to continue to discharge your duties without fear or favour,” it added.
The chapter gave an assurance that the GJA was always ready to stand with all women journalists all the way to ensure that they were not exposed to dangers that could hamper their progress and quest to educate, inform and entertain.
“We also hope to see more women placed in higher positions in the various media houses in the region as part of efforts to close the gender gap,” the statement added.