8 March, 2023
As the world celebrate International Women’s Day today, the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) join the call for more to be done to achieve an equal future. The theme for this year: “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”, represents a unique opportunity for addressing gender gaps. The use of technology and innovation represents an opportunity for curtailing the impact of widening economic and social-political inequalities. While technologies can serve as a threat in the digital revolution, it can also provide transformative solutions to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. According to a report by the United Nations women, “women are 18% percent less likely to owe and use a smart phone than men…; in the technological sector globally, women not only occupy fewer roles but also face a gender pay gap of 21%”.
The gap in accessing digital tools and opportunities disproportionately affects women and girls with low literacy and low economic power. These differences have serious consequences for limiting women and girls’ access to life saving information, online public services and mobile money products. This is clearly seen with the recent government policy switching from the old naira notes to the new notes which has reduced public access to physical cash and adversely affected women.
A survey conducted by the Centre for Environment Human Rights and Development Research team showed that while 66% of women are finding it hard to sell and repurchase goods for their business due to the fact that they do not have access to online banking services, only 32% of men were affected. The study also revealed that out of the 200 persons who took part in the study, 78% of these women says they do not have a bank account due to the fact that most banks are not in operation in their communities, while 58% of the women surveyed said they do not have access to a smart phone.
This digital gap is quite telling as technology has been shown to be at the heart of all developments. The gap between the rich countries and poor countries is majorly due to technological advancement. For us to leave no one behind especially women and girls, we must make technology cheap and easy to access. During the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020, there was a major spike in cases of gender-based violence owning to the lockdowns and the partial shutdown of public institutions. Technology played a major role by helping women who were desperately in search of help to gain access to information and support through social media platforms. The passage of the Violence against Persons (Prohibitions) (VAPP) Law both at the National and State level was made possible through the use of online campaigns which ensured that State actors got behind the Law.
Today as we celebrate another International Women’s Day, we do not forget the past and what we have come through. We at CEHRD therefore celebrate all those who have contributed to ensuring gender parity for women through the legislature by means of turning in gender transformative laws such as the equal inheritance rights for women and the prohibition of all forms of gender-based violence. It is therefore imperative to note today that gender equality is a basic human right for every generations.
Consequently, we call on the government at all levels to boost access to the use of digital solutions to addressing gender responsive aids and programmes that will increase economic, social and political opportunities for women and girls. We are also calling on government to make access to digital technologies cheap to ensure that more women are able to access life-saving information and support they need to improve their lives and achieve the United Nations charter of a life of freedom and dignity.
Finally we call on all actors to invest equally in the digital, science and technology education of women and girls as well as provide them with the platform to utilize their skills. For there cannot be true development, if women and girls are excluded in technological and artificial intelligence creators.
Senior Programme Officer, Human Rights and Governance
About CEHRD’s Gender Programme
CEHRD gender programme aims to integrate equity into policies and practices. Through trainings, CEHRD supports community women to change culturally prescribed roles and become equal partners in development. CEHRD also supports institutions such as the Police, Ministries of Health, Social Welfare and Rehabilitation and Justice through trainings, workshops and collaboration. CEHRD institutional support is to ensure that response are gender sensitive, protects, and respect human rights. CEHRD campaigns led to the domestication of the Violence against Person Prohibition (VAPP) in Rivers and Bayelsa States.