ICTs can balance gender inequality, Commtech Minister tells international community
Dr Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology of Nigeria has told an international forum that ICTs are tools to tackle gender inequality that exists in several developing countries.
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Dr Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology”]“There are currently 200 million fewer women online than men, and this yawning gap could grow to 350 million in three years, the Nigerian Minister said highlighting that globally women are coming online later and more slowly than men. Out of the world’s 2.8 billion Internet users, only 1.3 billion are women.“ [/blockquote]
The disparity in adoption of ICT by women and girls globally reveal a big gulf between men and women in the adoption of ICTs that needs to be bridged, Dr Johnson told the top-level technology meet in South Korea.
“ICTs are powerful transformative tools that foster development and advancement of economies-whether developing or advanced”, Johnson said in a speech while receiving the GEM-TECH Awards 2014 in Busan, South Korea awarded Nigeria for initiating policies and programmes empowering women and girls through ICT.
“ICT is a useful tool for bridging the digital divide and plays a crucial role in the socio-economic empowerment and development of communities and nations across the globe. It is the bedrock of development and the leveraging of this critical tool not only helps to create wealth and jobs, but it also enables inclusive development at all levels- health, agriculture, education, development, trade”, she adds.
There are currently 200 million fewer women online than men, and this yawning gap could grow to 350 million in three years, the Nigerian Minister said highlighting that globally women are coming online later and more slowly than men. Out of the world’s 2.8 billion Internet users, only 1.3 billion are women.
She says further that women account for fewer than 20% of ICT specialists in developing economies and it is estimated that by 2015, 90% of formal employment across all sectors will require ICT skills.
Additionally, 21% of women are less likely than their male counterparts to own a mobile phone representing a mobile gender gap of 300 million. In Africa, only about half of the female population makeup the number of men connected to the Internet.
The Award by the International Telecommunications Union ITU and UN Women in the 7th category for Nigeria was amongst the 360 nominations received from over 74 countries across the globe featured in the maiden edition of the joint ITU and UN Women awards.
The aim of GEMTECH Award initiative is to recognise and honour outstanding performers and role models in gender equality and mainstreaming in the area of ICT.
The Federal Ministry of Communication Technology was amongst 37 finalists selected from 360 nominations from 74 countries and went on to win the award in the 7th of “ICT and Broadband strategies, policies and frameworks that promote women’s digital empowerment.”
Announcing Nigeria as a winner in the 7th category at event HamadounToure commended Nigeria and Dr Johnson, the Minister of Communication Technology for initiating positive policies and programmes that are changing the lives of women and girls in Nigeria through ICTs.
Dr Johnson described the award as an important recognition and validation of the efforts of President Goodluck Jonatahn’s administration on gender inclusion and empowerment facilitated by ICTs.
She said that with the underrepresentation of women and girls in ICT, especially in emerging economies like Nigeria and the growing importance of ICTs for national socio-economic development, closing the digital divide has now become a development priority for Nigeria.
“We are committed to getting more women and girls into ICTs . We want to ensure that Nigerian women and girls are encouraged and empowered to embrace ICTs”, she adds.
Various global reports and statistics reveal that women and girls are grossly underrepresented in the field of ICTs. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in developing countries, 16% fewer women than men use the Internet, compared with only 2% fewer women than men in the developed world.
The Broadband Commission Working Group on Broadband and Gender in a report in 2013 entitled ‘’Doubling Digital Opportunities: Enhancing the inclusion of women and girls in the information society’’ lamented the pervasive gap in access to ICTs globally.
The Ministry under the window of the Growing Women and Girls in Nigeria (GWIN) initiative of President Goodluck Jonathan, came up with three ICT intervention initiatives geared at empowering Nigerian women and girls to reduce the gender divide in the country.
The gender based budgeting initiative aims to drive the economic and social inclusion of women in Nigeria. GWIN is being implemented through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministries of Finance, Communication Technology, Agriculture, Water Resources, Health, Works and Women Affairs.
The Ministry of Communication Technology has three flagship initiatives under the GWIN programme The Digital Girls Club, Huawei 1000 ICT Girls Training Programme and the Smart woman Nigeria project.