What you need to know:
- As technology improves, use it to improve a woman today since it’s said, when educate a woman, you educate a generation.
As we celebrate the role of women and their struggles in building homes, businesses and livelihoods, we still have a great debt to pay to bridge the gender digital divide, for women would be heroes greater than they are today;
In regard to the International Women’s Day, there is a need for research and empowerment of women in technology and innovation. The theme of The International Women’s Day 2023 is about Innovation and technology for gender equality and it examines the impact of the digital gender divide on growing economic and social inequality, also highlighting the importance of protecting women’s and girls’ rights in digital spaces and addressing online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence.
According to the World Bank, gender equality and digital development are inseparable; globally, men are 21 percent more likely to be online than women, a figure that rises to 52 percent in low-income countries. The Web Foundation estimates that the barriers holding women and girls back offline are;high device and data costs, lower digital skills, and restrictive social norms.
As a young woman myself, exposure to technology has greatly highlighted my communication and writing skills, through access to technology I am able to get more information on day-to-day updates and improve my education levels, more than 90 percent of these jobs worldwide already have a digital component and most jobs will soon require sophisticated digital skills.
If governments equip girls with digital skills by prioritizing education in ICT subjects, they will help girls thrive in economies where routine jobs have been automated and digital skills relevant to them are valued.
While bridging the gender digital gap, we need to take into consideration why the gap is there in the first place and how to bridge it; Technology and the internet can be a great enabler for girls but lack of opportunities, skills and a fear of discrimination prevent many from using and creating digital tools and online content.
In Uganda, girls and women struggle to afford technology and internet access. In addition, stereotypes around technology being ‘for boys’ and fear of being discriminated stops girls from using digital tools, to achieve gender equity. Girls and young women need equal access to technology, digital training and to be safe online. Create a safe place for women to also have a fighting chance. Sexism in the technology industry is overt, which makes the technology industry less friendly, less accessible, and less profitable for women.
Empower the marginalized communities as well, a mother in Nyahira Village in Hoima District still relies on firewood for cooking, and this implies she has to walk looking for firewood, carry the firewood back home and inhale the poisonous gases in the smoke produced from the firewood.
Government and all concerned parties should introduce more sophisticated and safe cooking methods like use of solar stoves, biomass and even briquettes.
As we highlight all the women in our lives that have made us better people in one way or another, we also have to actively better the lives of women today and every day. As technology improves, use it to improve a woman today since it’s said, when educate a woman, you educate a generation.
Jemimah Babirye Kasibbo, Advocacy officer Citizens Concern Africa.