March 26, 2023 no comments Eunice Golloh Categories News

Wednesday 8th March 2023 marks this year’s edition of International Women’s Day (IWD 2023), a global holiday celebrated annually as a focal point in the women’s rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

IWD 2023’s campaign theme aims to get the world talking about why equal opportunities are no longer enough. Imagine a gender-equal world. A world is free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

It is believed that everyone everywhere should have the right to access the transformative power of the internet. Internet access has become an essential part of modern life, necessary to ensure freedom of expression, political participation, health, and other fundamental rights.

Internet access provides an invaluable space where marginalized communities initiate social change and identities are created. However, it is estimated that over sixty percent (60%) of people around the world, most of them women and girls, continue to be excluded.

As a Cybersecurity Analyst who has risen through the ranks, I have realized that women’s chances of benefiting from the advantages of the internet and Information Communication Technology are one–third less than men’s, and the gender gap means that 200 million fewer women than men are online.

As we strive towards true gender equality, we know that access to the internet is critical for women’s empowerment with several benefits including the possibility for women and girls to build social capital through virtual networks and online associations.

Also, providing a public space to make important information on women’s rights universally available, supporting women to claim and demand their rights as well as creating new possibilities for education and employment for women and girls in the digital economy.

An important element in the drive to bridge the gender gap is the representation of women in technology fields. Currently, women worldwide are under-represented in various technology fields. Globally, women make up only one-quarter of scientific researchers and only twelve percent (12%) of engineers in the world are women.

In the UK, it is estimated that just twenty-seven (27%) of the “digital workforce” are women, and this figure is unfortunately falling. The drop-off rate for more advanced study in these fields amongst women is generally high due to stereotypes, the dominance of men in IT fields, the industry’s lack of policies for the inclusion of women, and skills gaps in STEM areas.

It is important to relook at our national policies, which focus on women and their career development. National policies should encourage increased access, training, and use of the Internet for women and girls. Women should be empowered and encouraged to pursue careers in technology with concrete targets for gender equity in this area.

In addition, various scholarships and grant programmes should be made available to support women in science and technology training and research, and ICT-related business training programmes should target women to promote and assist women tech entrepreneurs.

Over the years, national ICT plans or strategies include a rhetorical commitment to gender equity but fail to translate this into concrete, measurable targets backed by resources.

There should be concrete targets for gender equity in ICT access and should be backed by specific programmes that have been allocated an adequate budget, and there should be a plan to collect timely gender-disaggregated data to monitor the target. It should be real action and not lip service!

By Eunice Golloh (President  & Founder of Impact Wave Initiative and Chief Executive Officer & President of HKG IT Consulting)

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