June 24, 2024
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Breaking Gender Barriers through Innovation and Technology

For centuries, gender bias has been a pervasive issue in many communities. Despite progress, women still face discrimination and lack of opportunity to showcase their skills.

Technology and innovation can play an important role in breaking gender barriers – not only by providing more opportunities for female entrepreneurs and innovators to be heard, but also by creating new products designed specifically with women’s needs in mind.

Today, the world celebrates women and girls leading transformative change in the digital and technological spaces, in commemoration of International Women’s Day (IWD).  It is important to reflect on the progress made toward gender equality and the role of technology in furthering this goal. Interestingly, this year’s IWD is themed “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”.

The world has come a long way in breaking down gender barriers and creating equal opportunities for men and women in societies. Both women and men are involved in entrepreneurship, and results from the COVID-19 Business Tracker, supported by UNDP, affirmed rising use of digital technology (mobile money and internet) among businesses following the pandemic.

Despite the rise in the use of technology among businesses, women’s participation in the tech industry is low. For instance, in Africa’s tech industry, women constitute only 30% of the professionals.

We therefore seize this opportunity to congratulate and appreciate the efforts and contributions of the few women in Ghana and across the globe who are breaking the barriers. Notable of mention is celebrated women in tech in Ghana such as Emma Maame Efua Tandoh, Josephine Marie Godwyll, Ethel Cofie, Anne Amuzu, Farida Bedwei, Miishe Addy, Patricia Obo-Nai, Estelle Akofio Sowah, Angela Kyerematen-Jimoh, Rosy Fynn, Regina Honu, Ivy Barley, Lucy Quist among others. Having more women in the digital space to celebrate will require concrete actions.

Adopt gender-transformative approach to digital education

First, to create an enabling environment for women and girls to participate in technology and innovation, we must adopt a gender-transformative approach to digital education. We must be more intentional about addressing the persistent gender gaps in technology training and skills development. Thankfully, through the work of Soronko Academy, Developers in Vogue, the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology and other technology training institutions that run gender-responsive programs, Ghana has made steady gains in this direction. We need to encourage more women and girls to participate in the technology industry.

Enforce regulations to address online-gender-based violence Second, we must continue to address the issue of online gender-based violence, such as cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and exploitation of women and girls. Policies and regulations that hold people accountable for cyberbullying and exploitation must be strengthened and enforced. In Ghana, the government’s promotion of digitalization as a key policy objective has increased women’s participation in all aspects of the country’s digital economy. We must also intensify public education on the dangers of online gender-based violence.

Foster partnership across board

Third, technology and innovation indeed present an opportunity to create real change by opening new doors of opportunity that can lead to equality between all genders. We must therefore foster new partnerships and coalitions across government, the private sector and civil society to promote an inclusive and gender sensitive digital transformation. This will ensure that women, especially young women are at the center of our rapidly digitizing world.

On this International Women’s Day, let us renew our commitment to promote gender equality through innovation and technology. We must work together to create a digital world that is safe, inclusive, and empowering for all women and girls. Let us work together to support women in technology and ensure that all women and girls have equal opportunities to benefit from the digital economy. By embracing innovation and technology, we can break down gender barriers and empower women and girls to reach their full potential.

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By Jennifer Asuako, Gender Team Lead and Seth Akumani, Head of Exploration, UNDP Ghana on International Women Day

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