Jean-Paul Adam, the Director of the ECA’s Technology, Climate Change, and Natural Resources Division (TCND), has stated that digital skills offer girls the power to change the world. He highlighted that digitization offers a variety of opportunities for female empowerment. According to him, it also ensures a more equal female participation in labor markets, financial markets, and entrepreneurship.
He revealed this at an Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) webinar on Thursday. The ECA and its sister agencies, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), UN Women, and bilateral partners, jointly hosted the webinar. The theme for the webinar was “Connected African Girls, Creating Brighter Futures”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Adam has expressed worry about the high gender gap in internet penetration in the continent.
“With the lowest rate of internet penetration, the African region has the widest digital gender gap in the world. Only 22.5 percent of women use the Internet, compared to 33.8 percent of men. This gender gap is growing in some regions across the continent”.
This, according to him, is “reinforcing gender inequalities by denying women and girls opportunities to access education”. It also makes it very difficult for them to “find better-paid jobs, and start new businesses”.
Enhancing use of technologies
Mr. Adam further stated that the ECA is playing its part in the global effort to enhance the use of enabling technologies. These are technologies that promote the empowerment of women through coding camps, forums, and global outreach programs. Moreover, Mr. Adam said the ECA’s efforts “bring together partners from pertinent stakeholder groups”.
“Empowering young women and girls as part of building forward better is very important. Future challenges such as pandemics and climate change will need more women in the forefront “.Mr. Adam
Moreover, the ECA and its partners launched a friendlier and comprehensive “Learning Girls in ICT Initiative” at the webinar. This aims to bridge the continental digital divide. The launch of the “Learning Girls in ICT Initiative” marked the 10th anniversary of the International Day of Girls in ICT. The is commemorated annually on April 22, 2021, to help bridge the gender digital divide.
Meanwhile, Mactar Seck of the ECA’s TCND division stated that the “Learning Girls in ICT-Initiative” is an e-learning web platform. According to him, this is designed to offer essential technology education and skills to young women and girls. Jean-Paul Adam Jean-Paul Adam Jean-Paul Adam
Girls in STEM
Also, Mr. Seck explained that the e-knowledge portal will help bridge the digital divide and eradicate poverty for the continent’s socio-economic development. It will also ensure Africa’s ownership of modern tools of digital management, and boost its burgeoning knowledge economy. He added that the e-platform will encourage more women and girls in the continent to take on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Furthermore, Salma Abbasi, the moderator of the webinar called for the “need to broaden the horizons of technology”. Adding that we need to “do away with the stigma that science, technology, and mathematics are only for boys”.She added that Africa needs to address the gaps and access to connectivity. Ms. Abbasi further stated that the continent must leverage the abilities and agility of the youth to bring more women into technology.
Meanwhile, the webinar attracted a lot of participants across the African continent. The hybrid continental coding camp, held in Ethiopia in late 2020, brought together 124 girls in Addis Ababa. It attracted over 3000 girls across the continent who joined online for two weeks. Also, the camp helped them to deliberate on the promotion of women and young girls’ access to digital channels. The next coding camps will take place in June in Congo and Cameroon in June.
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