International Women’s Day 2023: “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”
As we commemorate International Women’s Day 2023, it is important to reflect on this year’s theme focusing on the key role innovation and technology play in promoting gender equality.
FIDA Nigeria acknowledges digital technology as one of the greatest innovations of our time. In our modern world today, digital literacy is an essential skill especially as most of our everyday activities in communities often revolve around the use of digital technology. As such digital technology has transformed the way we work, communicate, transact, learn, and even handle financial transactions.
Nevertheless, the operation of digital technology has also greatly shown the inequalities that exist between genders because of the comparative small number of women that can effectively handle and operate in such spaces.
We acknowledge that women have always faced unique challenges in the workplace particularly because the traditional office setup has often failed to accommodate the needs of women, especially mothers.
Digital technology has therefore created new opportunities for women to work remotely, giving them more flexibility to manage their personal and professional lives.
This proved particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, where many women were forced to work from home. We celebrate women who stepped up, learnt, and embraced the technological advances and changes.
FIDA recognizes that;
Digital Technology has also opened new avenues for education and learning. Women who may not have had access to traditional educational systems can now access online courses and resources from anywhere in the world. This has created beautiful opportunities for women to upskill and pursue new careers, which may have otherwise been out of their reach.
The downside of innovations in technology must also be noted as there are significant barriers that prevent majority of women from fully accessing and benefiting from digital technology.
One of the biggest challenges is the gender gap in technology-related fields. Women are still under-represented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, which are the driving force behind many technological innovations. This limits the career opportunities available to women and their operation and daily use of such, in a world that has largely gone digital.
FIDA therefore encourages the use of key strategies to attract more women and girls to STEM in Nigeria, such as:
• Encouraging women in STEM to engage in international and national collaborative scientific research, particularly engaging with more advanced countries for better exposure and experience
• Involving female scientists in Nigeria in the development of STEM policies.
• Encouraging young girls to develop an interest in STEM and empowering women across board through ICT.
• Exploring online engagement to strengthen participation and awareness of use of technology.
• Sponsoring women to participate in STEM workshops, conferences, seminars, and exhibitions.
FIDA in noting the
digital gender divide
challenge, appreciates the fact that women in developing countries like ours are less likely to have access to digital technology than their male counterparts. This therefore limits their ability to access information, education, and job opportunities, and compete equally on a level playing field. This therefore contributes to the cycle of poverty experienced by women.
To address these challenges, there needs to be a concerted effort to promote gender equality in this digital age.
• Encouraging more women to pursue careers in STEM fields and providing support and mentorship to help them succeed.
• Ensuring that women in developing countries have access to digital technology and providing training and resources to help them use it effectively.
• Promoting policies that support work-life balance, including flexible work arrangements and parental leave.
• Creating safe and inclusive online spaces that promote respect and equality and protect women from online harassment and abuse.
• Supporting initiatives that promote digital literacy and digital skills training for women of all ages.
FIDA Nigeria Celebrates women who are already working in the digital space and charges them to work more closely with other women and the girl child, by creating necessary platforms and opportunities for the girl child to use thereby supporting in closing the gender gap in this sector.
We especially celebrate Nigerian female digital tech champions who have accomplished giant strides in this sector despite known challenges. They stand today as great inspirations and worthy mentors to the girl child.
FIDA Nigeria encourages gender inclusive Innovation, calls for collective efforts from all – the government, civil society organizations, FBOs, International institutions, and their agencies to help the plight of the Nigerian girls and women by increasing their digital skills to help bridge the inequality and digital gender gap.
In conclusion, digital technology has the potential to be a powerful tool for promoting gender equality. However, to fully realize this potential, we must work together to address the unique challenges faced by women in the digital age and space. By promoting gender equality in the digital sphere, we can help create a more inclusive and equitable world for all.
Amina Suzanah Agbaje
Country Vice President/National President