The facilitate the expansion of women inclusion in the digital economy, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, FMoCDE, organised multi-stakeholders’ Workshop in Lagos, aimed at developing a strategic policy framework that will not only enhance women digital inclusion with effective participation in ICT employment and leadership, but also expand the ICT industry demand base thereby promoting growth and productivity.
Declaring the two-day workshop open on Thursday, December 19, 2019 at Ikeja, Lagos, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr, Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), said that the Digital Economy is expanding at a very fast pace.
The Minister who spoke through the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, Fuktar Istifanus, said that in just a few years, the platform has transitioned from being a luxury to an absolute necessity hence women and girls cannot be left behind.
The Minister’s comment is supported by the second quarter report by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, for 2019 which shows that the ICT sector contributed an impressive 13.85% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria.
“This clearly shows the importance and potential of the ICT sector to our job creation and economic and social inclusion”, he said.
Why framework on ‘Women Connect’?
Speaking squarely on the significances of the Workshop, Dr. Pantami said that globally, digital technologies have become powerful forces for socio-economic development, delivering substantial benefits for both individuals and society. However, there remains a significant digital gender gap which must be addressed to ensure that women are not being left behind.
Digital technologies empower women providing them access to information to enable them care for themselves, family and the entire society.
Across all countries, women are 21% less likely to own mobile phones or access ICT services than men.
It is reported that the figure increases to 23% in Countries like Nigeria. “The major constraints to Women access to ICT include affordability, lack of digital skills and cultural factors. There is therefore, the need to develop strategies to address these in the light of priority accorded ICT in the current Economic Blue Print of Government”.
The Minister said that theme for the Workshop: “Connecting Women for Growth in the Digital Economy”, wouldn’t have come at a better time and will, hopefully, address the challenges. “When women are economically empowered, they invest back into their families and communities, producing a multiplier effect that spurs growth and stability”.
He further stated that to boost development in the ICT industry, there is need to expand the demand base. “Although, women constitute about 50% of the Nigerian population, a considerable number is yet to key into the ICT economy. Many are unable to have access to products and services as well as literacy thereby creating operators and vendors and consequently for Government”.
He therefore charged participants and the public at large to increase the number of women who have access to ICT products, services and training “and by so doing increase the demand for ICT products and services regardless of gender; work with ICT stakeholders and non-Governmental organisations to equip them and their partners with knowledge to reduce the ICT Gender gap; increase the digital skills gap and the proportion of women in ICT leaders in the industry; increase the number of women employed in the ICT sector and motivate industry wide action with a view of closing the digital skills gap thereby increasing the proportion of female leaders in the ICT industry.
Hakeem Falm lauds Ministry on the initiative
The Commissioner for Science and Technology, Lagos State, Mr. Hakeem Fahm, said that the objectives of the ‘Women Connect’ workshop tally with the State’s resolve to continually increasing availability of tools and infrastructure for young (girls) students to learn about digital skills such as programming and coding and significantly broadens their perspectives of technology and careers in STEM.
He said that the Ministry has done well by making a move that will provide further opportunities that promote collaboration, exploration, and the critical thinking that results in useful applications of digital knowledge among women.
The Commissioner said that the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu intends to use innovative ways to teach and encourage girls to take up STEM courses from a young age and use the program in different parts of the State where lack of exposure and cultural norms have hindered the progress female education, especially in science and engineering.
Ministry is very passionate about common roadmap for women connect
Earlier, the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Nonye Nwachukwu, said that the workshop which cuts across the public sector, the private sector and the academia, brings together the top minds in the country to identify actions and set milestones for advancing the women and girls leveraging ICTs.
She said that the Ministry is very passionate about this initiative and welcome this collective effort by Industry Civil Society, league of women society and academia to move the Country forward and upward by agreeing on a common roadmap for women connect.
“This, in fact, I believe, is a defining moment. With the workshop today, we are making a paradigm shift and opening a new chapter in the history of the Nigerian women and girl in era of digital economy.
“This Workshop is a step in this direction as it allows stakeholders to pull their resources together to achieve a common set of goals. It is, in fact, the unity of purpose and unity of action that will matter most here for as the proverb of our African elders wise saying, ‘If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together.
“I am sure we want to go far together. I also know that we want to go fast and indeed we need to go fast, for we have much catching up to do in Nigeria as it connects with the women and girls leveraging ICTs.
Meanwhile, the project components for which the workshop was organised include, but not limited to;
- Development of Women Connect Action Plan;
- Development of Compendium of Gender Disaggregated data on digital inclusion, Mobilization and Sensitization of stakeholders to address the digital gender gap;
- Conduct Research on Women and Girls Access and use of ICT in Nigeria, Capacity building for Women and Girls on Digital Skills and Workshop on Women Connect Strategic Framework across the geopolitical zones of the country.
Why we support the Ministry on this project – WITIN
In a brief interview with TechEconomy.ng, the Founder of Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN), Martha Alade; a non-profit that empowers women and girls socio-economically through ICT via wit.ng, mata.ng, teachers.ng, icamp.ng and recently wit.ng/enjoy – for youths, expressed delight with the Ministry’s resolve for women inclusivity in the digital (economy) space.
According to her, this is the first time in the history of the Ministry that attention is given to women’s course with regards developing policy framework to cater for their interests.
She said that WITIN and other CSOs are in support of the Girls in ICT initiative of the Ministry as it will impact the lives of thousands of women and girls in the country.