[Column] Darryl Pietersen: Improving innovation and technology for gender equality in Ghana
The digital revolution is fully underway, and the technology industry is reshaping our world. While it looks quite innovative and revolutionary from the outside, women remain a dramatically underrepresented group in shaping this tremendous social transformation.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme set by the UN highlights the importance of innovation and technology for gender equality around the globe.
International Women’s Day serves as a reminder that there is still work to be done in empowering women in innovation and technology, especially in developing countries like Ghana, where they are at greater risk of prejudice and gender-based violence.
Today, it is more important than ever that women are empowered with digital skills and use the immense opportunities that come with access to digital technology. But why are women and girls still so seriously underrepresented in the world of innovation and technology?
Firstly, despite notable technological progress in Ghana over the years, discriminatory social norms on gender continue to impact negatively on the lives of both women and men. A lack of adequate and sustained opportunities, support, and investments often compromises women's education and economic empowerment.
Secondly, a study of 51 countries revealed that almost half (38%) of women had personally experienced online violence, and only one quarter reported it to the relevant authorities. Nearly 90% opted to limit online activity, increasing the digital gender divide.
Consequently, while the digital world offers significant opportunities and information, some information can expose women and girls to online harassment and abuse.
According to global digital payments company WorldRemit, digital financial transactions are becoming increasingly popular among Ghanaians. With some exposed to cyber threats with critical risks, including money laundering, fraud, terrorism financing, and sexual exploitation.
To counter this, the global remittance company has taken a proactive stance towards prevention, ensuring international remittances are not just convenient and accessible for customers but, most importantly, safe, and secure amidst rising cyber fraud incidents in Ghana.
WorldRemit refuses to work with correspondent partners who lack adequate controls for combatting fraud and financial crime—implementing risk-based controls for customers who need to send to destinations with elevated money laundering or terrorism financing risk.
Gender roles, norms and inequalities influence access and usage regarding the amounts, frequency and channels used to send and receive remittances and how and by whom the money is used.
To sum up, women must have opportunities to contribute to making real change and help shape the policies, services and infrastructure that impact their lives.
Let us encourage innovation and invest in technology to expand access to opportunities and skills for women in Ghana, facilitate the transition from education to employment and close the gender gap. In contrast, let us simultaneously protect women from online violence and achieve a gender-equal world as discriminatory norms and violence side-line women from fully entering the digital world.