By Olubunmi Adeniyi
Lagos. October 22, 2012: Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology, has recommended basic connectivity, affordable access devices and service plans for greater inclusion of Nigerian women in the knowledge-based economy driven by ICTs just like their counterparts cross the globe.
Johnson who made this recommendation at the Ministerial Roundtable discussion on “The Importance of Women in ICT” at the ITU Telecom World 2012 organised by the International Telecommunication Union in Dubai identifies that deliberate and committed inclusiveness of women is single major factor to empowering women.
According to the Minister, “reaching women through ICT demands basic connectivity, affordable access devices and service plans and encouraging adoption by making ICT relevant to women’s live through applications in health, literacy and economic empowerment.”
Also providing an interesting analogy at the roundtable, Hamadoun Toure, ITU Secretary-General, also notes that, “women are analogue, men are digital. Women can think about, and solve, many issues at the same time; men can only concentrate on one thing. Analogue can take many signals on one carrier, and digital only one. So when solving a problem, always ask both men and women to see how they tackle issues from different angles.”
Toure therefore called on governments and ICT businesses throughout the world to bring in and develop the enormous untapped potential of women and girls from the bottom of the pyramid up.
Representing the government of Costa Rica, Daisy Maria Corrales Diaz, Health Minister, also called for increased inclusion of women both horizontally and vertically, building on the success of countries such as Costa Rica itself, where female participation in the workforce has risen from 20 per cent in the 1970s to 39.4 per cent now.
ICTs are vital to reach women in their homes, in particular in rural areas, and drive economic prosperity, Diaz says.
Introduced as the person who had brought the internet to Tunisia, Khédija Ghariani, Secretary General of the Arab Information and Communication Technology Organisation, says “we must encourage women to reach posts at the level decision makers, in government and in the private sector- and then we will see results that are truly extraordinary.”
Representing the president of Gabon, Laure Olga Gondjout, former Minister of Telecommunications outlined the most important action for enabling women to not only use ICTs, but move towards designing and creating ICT solutions, saying governments and industry must invest in public and private partnerships focused on providing gender parity in the sector.
Deborah Taylor-Tate, Special ITU Envoy for Child Online Protection, highlights the dismal lack of women in ICT jobs throughout the world, even in Korea, the most connected nation on earth. Female role models such as the president of Kosovo are important to encouraging girls to enter ICT and to strive for success.
“Women focus on human rights, on justice, on education and on economic renewal, yet they are often overlooked. Hiring in bundles to encourage diversity, mentorship programmes, pay equality and education are vital.”