According to Capital news, given that only 24% of women use the internet compared to 35% of men, it is critical that technological advancements do not exacerbate existing gender disparities in the digital sphere.
Building inclusive innovation and technology ecosystems must be at the heart of efforts to leverage the potential of innovation and technology to support the economic, social, and political development of women and girls in Africa.
Prudence Ngwenya, Director of the African Union Commission’s Women, Gender, and Youth Directorate, spoke at the opening ceremony of the ministerial segment of the consultations, calling for the Common Africa Position to be translated into actionable steps and mainstreamed into the work that governments are doing to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“Empowering women and girls through the provision of meaningful access to the internet and innovative technologies could undoubtedly provide them with opportunities to start businesses, and to access education, health, social as well as financial services,” she said.
She also pointed out that, while technology and innovation are being hailed as critical means of accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, statistics on access, beneficiaries, and who influences their development show disparities between and among the sexes.
“According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in Africa, women account for only 24% of the population using the internet, while men account for 35% of users. Thus, delegates stressed that ensuring that these technological developments do not widen the digital gender divides was crucial,” she said.
UN Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Maxime Houinato, has called for efforts to be made to ensure that the interests of African women and girls shape the values and principles that underpin technology and innovation governance.
“CSW 67 provides an opportunity for Africa to influence the global discourse on digital cooperation, to ensure that technology and innovation can accelerate economic growth, while fairly distributing the benefits to African women and girls as well as reshaping sociocultural norms to create a more equal and just world for them,” Said Houinato.
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) recommended that women and girls have access to digital tools such as the internet and relevant information, that data be made available to support gender-responsive innovation, and that women and children have access to digital safety.
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) remains instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.