Bridging the digital divide by empowering Girls in ICT
The digital gap between men and women is widening and the divide is reinforcing socioeconomic inequalities, a workshop themed on ‘Women in ICT- Bridging the Gender Gap and Reaching the Unserved’ has heard.
The event brought together delegates of the Communication Regulator’s Association of Southern Africa or CRASA from Africa and local stakeholders. The workshop held today on the 15th of May, examined a range of innovations in both regulations and technologies that will bring affordable access to all, in particular, the underserved and those residing in rural areas.
They will also explore business models that have succeeded in other parts of the world in addressing connectivity gaps. A rejoinder workshop with a similar concept of promoting Universal Access and democratizing access to ICTs will be held tomorrow on 16 May 2018.
The two workshops are organized at the initiative of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Technology, Communication, and Innovation of Mauritius.
Mrs. Bridget Linzie, the Head of Electronic Communications of Communication Regulator’s Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) said there are various challenges in relation to the unequal access and use of ICT that should be addressed to enable women to contribute and drive the economy.
In her keynote address, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Dr. Rooba Yanembal Moorghen, highlighted that Government strives to have a connected community for which various initiatives to improve internet provision and telecommunications have been undertaken across the island, in Rodrigues, and in Agalega.
She further pointed out that mobile penetration stands at 144% and Fibre To The Home is a reality across the island with 100% coverage and in this regard since September 2017, Mauritius occupies the 8th position worldwide. Moreover, she added that the Universal Service is a policy designed to ensure that telecommunication services central to social and economic integration are available to everyone at affordable prices.
The Permanent Secretary emphasised that gender gaps and imbalance do arise in the use and access to ICT and that it is critical to bridge these so that women partake equally to the socioeconomic growth of the country. She added that technology has certainly transformed the nature of various jobs that has increased job ventures and brought forth more advantages in particular for women who have multiple roles in the society.
Mrs Moorghen further pointed out that in Mauritius, equal opportunity is provided across all spheres of the society and Government ensures that both genders are exposed to technology. The education curriculum, in particular, she said, is geared towards introducing ICT so that school leavers are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to fit in the digital landscape.
With the aim to further bridge the gender divide, ICT awareness courses are provided in Women’s associations, social welfare centers and women centers across the Island, she added.
As for the Knowledge Manager of Connected Women- GSNA, Ms Mariana Lopez, she observed that the world is increasingly connected and the number of mobile phone users is ever increasing. However, she said, there is a significant gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage by women which is hindering their empowerment.
She emphasized that ICT access gaps should be bridged and instead connectivity should be leveraged to empower women.