Policies must be gender-specific

BY: Rebecca Quaicoe Duho
Mr Vincent Sowah Odotei
Mr Vincent Sowah Odotei

Panellists at the second annual Africa Summit for Women and Girls in Technology, have asked African governments to give gender specific focus to their policies if the gender technology gap on the continent is to be bridged.

They noted that gender specific policies would attract young women and girls to participate in Information Communication and Technology (ICT).

The three-day summit, which was held in Accra from Tuesday, was on the theme “Unlocking Africa’s Digital Future” and a collaboration between the World Wide Foundation, Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Ministry of Communications, African Development Bank, UN Women, Open Society Initiative for West Africa and Google, among others.

The summit

The event, which is the second in a series to be held in Ghana, brought together over 250 women and young girls from across Africa and aimed at designing solutions that would enable millions of African women and girls to benefit from access to technology and use their skills to build a better Africa for all.

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The panellists who are from Nigeria, Benin and Senegal all said the African continent did not provide a favourable environment for women and girls to thrive in the technology industry.

The Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr Vincent Sowah Odotei in an address said the promotion of girls’ digital literacy and closing the digital gender gap was crucial to achieving gender equality and promoting the rights of girls and women across the country and worldwide.

He quoted, statistics from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that shows that 90 per cent of jobs worldwide already have a digital component and noted that in the coming years, most jobs would require increasingly sophisticated digital and ICT skills.

He said the ministry in 2012 adopted the policy of celebrating the “Girls-in-ICT initiative in line with the ITU.

This, he said was part of a long term objective of increasing female participation in the technological sector of the economy.

600 girls

Mr Odotei said girls from public schools in selected districts, have obtained basic computer application skills at various community information centres across the country.

Also, he said over 600 girls have been trained in basic programming, coding and web development this year and this, he said was to be scaled up to increase the number of beneficiaries across the country.

The Deputy Minister said digital technologies were transforming every aspect of lives and had the potential to empower girls and women economically and socially.

He said the present gender technology gap holds back women and girls, and also negatively impacts countries’ potential for economic growth and development.

Ms Onica Makwakwa, Head of Africa Region of A4AI in an interview said the summit would help in identifying some of the barriers to girls pursuing ICT and help in finding a lasting solution to them.

She said most of the barriers had been identified as cultural and historical and the summit was working at ensuring that such barriers were broken through advocacy.

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