Women and girls in the country have been challenged to embrace technology if they are to make significant contributions towards the growth of the local economy.

This was said yesterday during the commemoration of Girls in Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Day held at Amaryllis Hotel in Blantyre.

In his remarks, the Centre for Governance and Leadership (CEGOL) Executive director, Chimwemwe Kaonga quoted President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera’s speech at the Transform Africa Summit in Zimbabwe saying time is now to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields among girls in order to achieve sustainable development. “If we are to rise as a continent and leapfrog
into the 4th Industrial revolution powered by digitization, then we must
rise through technology, we must rise together and we must rise now,” he quoted.

Kaonga then called on role models, tutors, and leaders in ICT to reshape Malawi’s digital
landscape, achieve national development goals, and strengthen
gender equality for the benefit of every Malawian citizen.

“I urge the private sector to invest in ICT and for government to look
into the education curriculum and incorporate issues of ICT at all
levels. We would also love to see our girls being exposed to ICT at earlier stages of their education so that by the time they are in secondary
school, they should be well versed with issues if ICT,” he remarked.

On his part,Chief Executive Officer for Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC), Patrick Kabambe who was the guest of honour at the event said it is sad to see the disparity between boys and girls in as far as access to digital skills is concerned.

He recalled Digital Skills Assessment commissioned by the PPPC and undertaken by Ernest and Young in 2019 as vey revealing.

He said :”An analysis of the foundational skills based on gender suggests foundational competency of females lags relatively behind the males. It was found that 46% of males in Malawi can operate a computer against 26% females.

“While more than half the female population knew how to operate a smartphone, but only 30% knew how to access internet and find information using smartphones.”

He said the foundational digital competency of females is now below the national average on most of the competency parameters with 20% female with no digital skills hence a need to break the gender divide.

“As I said, digital technology is not a luxury. A world bank study of 2020 found that a 10% increase in broadband penetration in Malawi can lead to US$189 million in additional GDP.

This means that if girls are left out in acquiring these digital skills, they will be left out in economic activities and will thus be left out in reaping the benefits that the growth in the economy will bring,” he said.

The event saw the unveiling of Her for Tech Magazine and Women and Girls Tech Awards.

The commemoration was organized by CEGOL, Her for Tech, Women for Social Change (W4SC), Sparc Systems Limited, Inq Digital Malawi and the Unicaf University.

The International Girls in ICT Day was designated in 2011 by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which is an agency of the United Nations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *