Stakeholders aim to address continent’s ICT gender gap
from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Cape Town, South Africa
CAPE TOWN – STAKEHOLDERS attending a leading information and communications technology (ICT) summit here have pledged their commitment to addressing the gender gap in mobile access and usage in the developing world, particularly in the continent.
The stakeholders have converged in Cape Town on Monday, South Africa under the auspices of the GSMA Mobile 360 Series, Africa, which ends on Friday.
At a co-located event, the GSMA Connected Women, concern was raised at the prevailing gender gap in the industry and pledged to drive the growth of
the female digital economy.
Anne Bouverot, the GSMA Director General, urged for a multi-stakeholder
approach to ensure greater inclusion and participation of women, particularly young girls.
“In the developing world, only 1/3 of women have access to mobile, and we
have to change that. GSMA cares about women and wants to increase opportunities for women in mobile.
“We are working with partners in the ecosystem, such as mobile network operators and manufacturers. The image among young girls of the mobile industry is a sector beonging to geeky young men yet there are huge opportunities that exist for them in this sector.
“We want to make the issue of women in ICT an expectation, not an exception,” Anne Bouverot said during her opening keynote.
Bouverot said her organisation would help close the gender gap through
such initiatives as scholarships and internships it would offer together
Sylvia Mulinge, General Manager: Enterprise Business at Safaricom, the
Kenyan mobile operator, concurred stakeholders had to drive the rise of
the female digital economy.
“Investing in women is investing in the future,” she said.
She pointed out that cultural and religious dictates led to the exclusion
of women in ICT.
“In Kenya, women represent more than half of the population but they enjoy fewer opportunities than their male counterparts,” said Mulinge.
She said her company had introduced some offerings aimed at empowering women.
These, she mentioned, included a micro-health insurance service and the
M-Shwari offering that enhanced women’s access to loans and savings, among others.
“We have specific products that are useful and affordable to them to ensure they contribute to economic growth,” she added.
Priya Jayisinghani, Acting Director, Global Solutions at the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID) said closing the gender gap
in the mobile industry would enhance the growth of some emerging
“In countries such as Kenya and Nigeria, women contribute 12 percent and 8 percent respectively to the economy. That could be more if they were not
excluded,” said Jayisinghani.
The GSMA Connected Women programme aims to create global awareness of the business case for greater involvement of women in the mobile industry and the socio-economic benefits of greater access and inclusion for women at all points in the sector.
Formed in 1995, the GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association) is an
association of mobile operators and related companies devoted to
supporting the standardising, deployment and promotion of the GSM mobile telephone system.
Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the
world’s mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the
broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies,
equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment
– CAJ News
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