Cecilia Dapaah: We need to increase investments in closing gender digital divide

Cecilia Abena Dapaah, the caretaker Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), has called on stakeholders to increase investment towards closing the gender gap in the digitisation ecosystem in the country.

Dapaah was speaking at a national symposium to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child on the theme: ‘‘The Digital Generation: Promoting Citizenship for Girls without Discrimination’’ in Accra.

She said it was imperative for stakeholders to be conscious of the special needs of the girl child in the digital world.

She, therefore, called for the creation of equal chances for their educational opportunities in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields towards ensuring that girls benefitted fully from the digital revolution.

According to Dapaah, data had revealed that vulnerable populations of women and girls seemed to be stuck in the past and blocked to life-changing opportunities around them and that more parents found it easier sending their sons to holiday computer classes or buying them laptops and phones than doing same for their daughters.

“Even though we claim to be in the digital age, these actions have ensured that large sections of the population made up of mostly girls have not had their world changed by these advancements,’’ she noted.

Dapaah stated that with the global internet user gender gap growing from 11 per cent in 2013 to 17% in 2019, and widest in the world’s least developed countries at 43%, with 2.2 billion people below the age of 25 not having access to the internet at home, girls were more likely to be cut off.

She noted that majority of people engaged in trade in Ghana were females, however, statistics showed that the share of online trade had been disproportional against women, which had been attributed to the lack of access of women to digital resources such as smart devices, internet connectivity as well as low literacy.

The caretaker minister urged parents not to be biased in the provision of opportunities to their children in technology, particularly the girls in the STEM field.

She encouraged girls to use women in the fields of technology in the country as role models as they explored the digital world for career opportunities.

Dr Afisah Zakaria, chief director of MoGCSP said the celebration was to bring attention to the power and diversity of girls as digital change-makers and galvanise support to address the challenges girls encountered in the digital world.

She said the inclusion of all citizens in the development process had been crucial to ensuring a holistic approach in the quest for a well-developed nation, however, discriminatory social norms, traditional barriers, and gender stereotypes continuously affect women and girls’ economic empowerment and social wellbeing.

Dr Zakaria said that had resulted in a reduction in productivity of girls and women and social imbalances, which had serious implications for generational poverty, gender parity, and quality family life.

‘‘Educating young girls and providing them with the necessary digital training and tools will serve as a springboard for developing their potential as young women. The time is now to support girls by giving them the tools they need to shape their own destinies,’’ she said.

Dr Zakaria called on the citizenry to adopt appropriate measures to address the alarming rate of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, including teenage pregnancy and online related abuses and harassment, which had become a major threat.



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