A stakeholders’ forum to empower women to take advantage of the full potential of the internet to exercise their rights and advance their socio economic wellbeing ended in Accra on Wednesday.
The forum, which was organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), with support from the World Wide Web Foundation also focused on how stakeholders could promote Women’s Rights Online (WRO).
Addressing participants, Executive Director of MFWA, Sullemana Braimah, underscored the need for more women to become technologically-inclined, saying access to digital tools that made it possible for women to have access to information on the internet must not be a problem.
He explained that the inequalities women had suffered over the years were being directly replicated in terms of the current digital revolution.
According to him, the more the delay in catching up; the more difficult it would be to close up the digital gender gap.
Mr Braimah regretted that women, generally, had not been given the necessary support they needed when it came to decision making and leadership positions, despite forming a larger part of the population, therefore leaving them behind technologically was unfair.
In furtherance, the Executive Director stressed that one of the most important solutions to the issue of gender inequality and discrimination against women was access to the internet and education.
Throwing light on the reasons for the gender gap in the digital space, Madam Dora Boamah Mawutor, a representative of MFWA, noted that high cost of data, unreliable internet service, inadequate relevant content, lack of digital skills and online safety and security challenges were among the challenges.
Digital equality, she said, did not only benefit individual rights and women’s empowerment, but actually benefitted society as a whole, as it was a vital driver of economic growth and prosperity.
She explained that it was, therefore, necessary for the digital gender-divide to be closed, to ensure that women and girls fully participated online without fear of their safety.
Madam Mawutor called on the government and the private sector to invest more in Information Communication Technology (ICT) to help improve network connectivity and accessibility across the country, and also vigorously increase awareness on digital literacy among girls and women.
In a speech read on his behalf, the National Security Advisor, Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako assured that the government would continue to implement policies to ensure that the digital rights of women were not violated.
He explained that already, various interventions had been put in place to further protect the personal data of the populace and ensure freedom of internet users in Ghana irrespective of their gender among others.
According to him, the government, through the Ministry of Communication and Digitisation had implemented policies that sought to encourage more girls and women to develop interest in ICT and also actively pursue careers in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
“Government is doing its part in ensuring that women’s rights online are protected,” he added.
A report by the MFWA which revealed that online harassment was one of the major challenges facing women in the country’s online space was launched at the forum.
BY RAISSA SAMBOU