International Day - INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY DigitALL - Innovation and technology for gender equality - 8 March 2023

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

[8 March 2023]

“DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”

When we invest in women and girls, we are investing in the people who can invest in everyone else”, Melinda Gates.

Annually, the 8th of March has been set aside as International Women’s Day. The day offers an opportunity to reflect on progress made in terms of gender equality, to celebrate acts of courage and determination in promoting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces contributing to the history and development of their countries and communities. VERITAS joins all those who have chosen to contribute and lead the charge on bridging the digital gap on widening economic and social inequalities under the theme #Digital: Innovation and technology for gender equality”

DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”

This year’s theme advances gender equality in the context of innovation and technology. It is important to protect the the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and addressing online and information and communication technologies ICT.                             

Gender Equality and Technology

Zimbabwe has committed itself to ending all discrimination against women and girls. This was done by pledging to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (2015) and the African Union Agenda 2063.

The Intel’s Report [ Intel is a world renowned company in the design and manufacturing of essential technologies]  states that men are twice more likely to have access to the internet than women. Bridging the digital divide in Zimbabwe will require much more than merely improving information across communication technologies [ICT]. Gender mainstreaming ensures that both men and women are integrated into the design and implementation of ICT programmes so that all genders benefit equally.

Current legal position in Zimbabwe

The inclusion of the founding values and principles in the 2013 Constitution set the foundation for crafting laws addressing digital rights. The Constitution of Zimbabwe 2013 recognises the equality of all human beings and gender equality .Section 17 (1) implores the state to promote gender balance and full participation of women in all spheres of the Zimbabwean society. The state must take all measures needed to ensure that both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of government at every level.

Digital transformation and innovation are currently not balanced in the socio cultural and traditional beliefs .The constitutional inclusion not only ensures protection of digital rights, but it places digital issues at the same level of concern as other human rights. Currently, the main legislation in Zimbabwe includes Cyber and Data Protection Act [Chapter 12:07] and Postal and Telecommunications Act chapter [12:05] 

Bridging the Digital Gender Divide

Reasons for the digital gender gap include inequitable access to education and harmful social norms that exist in the “offline” world and impact digital realities and potential benefits for women and girls. Digital literacy has become almost as important as traditional literacy. Equipping girls with digital skills through prioritising education in ICT subjects can help them to thrive in economies where routine work has been automated and digital skills are prized.

Empowering women and girls through the provision of meaningful access to the internet and digital technologies could undoubtedly provide them with opportunities to start businesses, and to access education, health, social and financial services. It could also be a powerful tool to enable women and girls to participate in governance, to associate, assemble and express themselves on digital rights issues that are dear to them and to develop relevant content for their empowerment. There is need to increase women’s representation in leadership and decision-making roles within the ICT sector.  

In order to bridge the gender digital divide, African governments need to urgently implement legislative policies, administrative and practical measures to address the existing structural inequalities in income, education, and employment opportunities. Closing the digital gender gap will require that states  share gender and age disaggregated data on access and use of ICT in order to help track and evaluate progress shaping  policies geared towards promoting the enjoyment of digital rights by women and girls on the continent.

Conclusion

Advancing gender equality in the context of innovation and technology is critical for potential growth and development. Investing in girls and women in the digital space means investing in everyone else.

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