The world over marks the INTERNATIONAL GIRLS IN ICT on the 26th April and on this day, basically the whole point is to raise awareness on the role that women have to or have played towards building an ICT lead world. The words “Digital Divide” are commonly use to portray the gap between those that use ICT and those that are not aware of its use or have no opportunity to harness its value. Today I would like to use it to portray the gap between women and men in the area of ICT.
Men are perceived to be geniuses in many fields (ICT inclusive) which gives them an advantage over the women who are perceived to be the “minors” in many of the same fields. This has been going on since time immemorial until some powerful women activists raised the red flag and demanded for women’s rights to be treated just like men. ICT is one area which is very diverse and yet so little of it has been tapped on the local scene for example I have not seen as many women involved in ICT lead projects as men of even ICT lead business projects. The majority of these projects are usually started by men and the women come in later since in most cases they are better at management roles.
Though I had my high school in a single school, I had the opportunity of noticing the “digital divide” when we had seminars, conferences and workshops. I would clearly notice that when it came to areas of ICT, girls would shy away from being party to any of things like computers and the like except at this one workshop by WOUGNET where I saw women like Maureen Agena actively engaging us on youth and ICT related matters together with other ladies at the workshop. Unfortunately this was the only time I ever witnessed, apart from that, I also followed the recently concluded Inspire Africa where many women were involved in ICT related projects and even the overall winner whose project was mobile apps development, this was a good start and an eye opener to the women and men all together.
In this post, I would like to suggest a few ideas which I think may work toward bridging the gap between women and ICT and I do hope that that they may be of good use to those championing for this cause both in the short and long run.
Encourage Computer lessons in Girl’s Schools
Visit one of the many girls’ schools and ask about their perspective as regards to computers. Many girls find the subject rather boring, I recently asked my cousin why she didn’t opt for computer ate her O’level and she plainly told me that it’s very hard and well, the teachers are boring. This shocked me partly because there is no way computer can be boring unless there is a problem somewhere. I wouldn’t blame her though because most teachers of this subject have still failed to find some way of making it interesting and thus the students have failed to like it. The stake holders should strive to make sure that they look for teachers that have the passion for the subject and are not just doing it for the sake. This will not only improve the school’s image but also change the perception of girls that computer lessons are boring and hard.
Promote women’s ICT business start ups
Evidently, there are so many business related to ICT that have the potential to grow into multi million companies if only the right channels are used. Now many of these do not have women at the fore front. It is therefore not wrong to encourage women to start and manage such business and even support those that are already up and running. Like I had mentioned about the project inspire Africa, I would love to see a replica of such a project in such a way that more emphasis is put on women and ICT(whoever has the right connections and money can do just that). Women are very good managers and are also less prone to corruption as has been evidenced by the events in Uganda today (Judging by the ministries that women run and the positions they hold)
Give the Women audience
In the world today, there are many ways or channels through which an audience can be attracted. The broadcasting, print and online industry are all suitable channels which to me if effectively used would work toward s advancing the cause of women in ICT. The numbers on face book and twitter speak for themselves which shows that to a smaller extent, the digital divide on social media has been bridged. I have also seen many women talk about ICT related issues and topics on TV’s like Kate Russell who appears on BBC’s Click programmee and the numerous articles written by women concerning ICT. If more women were encouraged to talk, write and share their thoughts and ideas on ICT, this would work towards a world in which both men and women play a role in advancing matters of ICT. We should also learn to listen to women when they begin sharing their thoughts and ideas on ICT. Personally when a lady is sharing about ICT, I pay keen interest and try to find out why and all the reasons behind because by the time a lady talks about ICT, that only means that it’s a very important matter.
Involve Women in ICT policy Formulation
Everyday different policies are developed by the government pertaining to a number of areas including ICT, however many are times women are not consulted or given an opportunity to be party to these policies which in a way hampers the efforts to bridge the digital divide. Involving women in policy formulation brings to attention some of the challenges they face in access to ICT and in so doing, their challenges maybe overcome at an early stage before the policies are implemented when it would be too late for the women to come into play. Much as we have women representatives in parliament, special emphasis should be put into designing policies that are not aimed at encouraging the digital divide but rather advancing the cause of encouraging women to participate and make use of ICT.
Finally, I would like to appreciate the efforts of some women that are working so hard to leave a mark in ICT through sensitizing their counterparts and also the men that are allowing women to play a vital role in ICT, I believe together we can achieve the dream of reducing or even eliminating the digital divide in ICT, AS soon as I come up with a complete list of women that have played a big role in bridging the gap, I will update this post and include them.
HAPPY GIRLS IN ICT DAY