As the world commemorates International Women’s Day 2023, with the theme, DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality, Sisters Bond Initiative (SBI), a civil society organization working to promote the rights of women and girls, tasks all relevant actors to make concerted efforts toward bridging the digital gender gap in Nigeria.
IWD is a yearly event commemorated every 8 March. It is a day set aside to recognize the achievements and contributions of women worldwide and to raise awareness on the challenges facing the actualization of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
A report published by UN Women shows that globally, women are a minority of students in STEM courses (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and only 3% of women are in information and technology studies. The report further reveals that women’s exclusion from the digital space has shaved $1 trillion from the GDP of middle and low-income countries (LMIC) in the last decade.
Nigeria’s position in all of these is undoubtful as a LIMC where specific disciplines and career fields are male-centric and women and girls are stereotyped into avoiding those areas; where over 60% of the out-of-school children are girls, and where women are economically marginalized due to patriarchal constructs and in some cases the burden of the caring responsibilities imposed on them.
In Commemoration of this day, SBI calls on the government to create opportunities for women’s empowerment in digital technology as an investment in the country’s future and development. Women are known to be innovative and transformation-driven, so, if they are equipped to take up spaces in the digital world, their contributions will significantly reflect in the country’s growth and sustainable development index. This may include implementing gender-responsive programs focused on building the digital skills of women across broad, curricula-based reforms in secondary schools that target access to information technology, hands-on digital skills, and innovations.
SBI also urges development partners and donor agencies to advance this cause by supporting more innovative programs aimed at reducing gender inequality through the use of technology and the digitalization of resources.
In conclusion, we encourage girls and young women with an interest in driving technological changes and leading innovations to keep taking up digital spaces; shattering glass ceilings, and dismantling stereotypical structures; one step at a time towards the realization of their goals. SBI is committed to raising equal partners for sustainable development and will always rise to the challenge of empowering its key population.
Chisom Ihekwaba (Co-founder, SBI)