By Dr Abiola Adeleke-Alabi
The United Nations (UN) recognized 1975 as International Women’s Year. UN has chosen March 8, as global international Women’s Day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. There is no doubt that women really do build a society. They build a whole community. However history has failed women many a time to represent what a woman can be. Although there cannot be just a day to celebrate a woman, as every day should be a day, where we respect the divinity of women.
The United Nations theme for this year 2023 Women Day is DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality. Realising digital technologies hold immense potential to improve people’s economic and social outcomes, yet challenges remain regarding women’s access to and use of these technologies which has led to gender divide in particular regarding the use of ICT and digital platforms, mobile phones and digital payments by women, 2023 international Women Day theme has shined its lights on this significant areas of empowerment.
Gender divide in Innovation and technology can be narrowed to factors such as difficulty to access, affordability, limited education attainment and lack of technological literacy, as well as inherent biases and socio-cultural norms that lead to gender-based digital exclusion. Bearing in mind that, women are more involved in unpaid care and domestic work that men do, which leaves them less times to grow their careers. There is need for women to be given their share of time and opportunities to develop and also grow. Women are the cradle of the home and society. Women need equity in their pursuit to manage all fronts they manage both at home and at work.
With improved expertise in digital literacy, women can be empowered to work using their digital literacy from home online. This was means by which women continued in their jobs during the COVID period working from home, selling online from home. Embracing Equity for women and girls in Nigeria in the area of Innovation and technology will no doubt lead to economic empowerment towards the achievement of gender equality.
A greater response to gender technology and digital education can increase the awareness of women and girls regarding their rights and civic engagement. Digital transformation and other technological advancements will provide new avenues for the economic empowerment of women and girls. Digital empowerment for women and girls will afford them flexibility, more jobs variety and more time with their family, while at the same time helping with the family income.
However, without the support from those in power through policy agreement, this will be a difficult order to attain for women in Nigeria. Digital empowerment offers women the possibility to better combine motherhood and the pursuit of a career. The digital platforms, mobile phones, and digital banking offer opportunities and can help bridge the divide by giving women the possibility to earn additional income, increase their employment opportunities, and access knowledge and general information. Compulsory education for girls will help to eliminate the digital gender divides. Compulsory schooling will ensure that individuals gain the basic skills and competences needed for full participation in labour markets and society Greater support of schoolgirls in the areas of Science, Technology and Mathematics, will lead to increase in the number of women engineers, innovators and scientists.
Discouraging women and girls through verbal discrimination by telling them they belong to the ‘back room’ in the 21st century is counter productive to embracing gender equity. Improving and empowering women and girl’s digital awareness and expertise will enable them to address online digital challenges. Government should embrace equity of women and girls through enhancing training and creating opportunities of skills or set of skills for a deeper understanding and meaningful use of digital technologies for narrowing the digital gender divide.
The objective should be to equip women and girls with the skills needed to thrive in the digital era.As we celebrate another Women’s Day 2023, and towards ensuring a DigtAll for women and girls in Nigeria, government should make efforts at bridging the digital gender divide, by taking action across a range of key policy areas. Policy makers need to act to unleash the potential of digital technologies to empower all individuals, especially women and girls as advocated by the United Nations.
Dr. Abiola Adeleke- Alabi is an advocate of gender equitable norms.