Monday, October 3, 2011

The Empowerment of Women with ICTs

What is the future without the empowerment of women with information and communications technologies (ICTs)? Jidaw created the Women in ICT Blog to sensitize the public and create awareness on policies, practices and action required to advance and empower women and promote gender equality with ICTs. 

The recognition of women falls within the underlying concern of gender inequality. Genders are not the same, but do women have equal opportunities and access to resources? The gender equality focus is often on the position and issues of women because women deserve not just better treatment but equality. Gender imbalances with regard to access to important rights, opportunities and resources generally have a more negative impact on women and girls than men and boys.

So while the Women in ICT Blog is a resource for the celebration of the positives (women who have achieved); it is also for highlighting the negatives and the work that still needs to be done. 

We all need equality in how we are treated and equality in access to opportunities. Gender inequality is real – do women have the same opportunities to develop their capacities and talents? Are legal, marketing, customer care, catering, secretarial, entertainment, fashion and modeling the only career areas where women can excel? And we also need to take off our urban glasses - most women in Nigeria live in rural areas. Are girls and women in the rural communities really living their dreams? Or aren’t they allowed to dream?

All women have the right to participate fully in society – the right to work, vote, be educated, to seek political office, to contribute to society, to live their dreams. But Stone Age stereotyping, discrimination and inequalities limit the contributions of women. And in the patriarchal, male centred society, women are victims of rape, harmful practices and other forms of inhuman gender related violence.

Celebrating the Contributions of Women
Considering the challenges women have to face to live their dreams and realize their potentials in a male dominated world, we have no option but to recognize, respect, commend and celebrate the contributions of women.

Over the years, there have been significant changes and improvements regarding gender equality in society. All around the globe, more interest is being shown in the role of women in society. Visibility has improved in critical sectors. The number of women having real choices, outside the prisons of stereotype, has increased. Battles have been won, and women’s issues are being brought to the forefront. Though we must acknowledge the gains, the overall picture is a mixed bag and experiences differ from country to country. Some have made more progress than others. The truth however is that for many, gender equality is still a distant dream. Women are still not present in equal numbers in critical areas of business, education, technology and politics. And we must question our humanity because violence against women is still a troubling reality.

The Women in ICT Blog aims to remind the world of these issues, raise awareness, highlight the concerns and struggles of women and celebrate women who have achieved despite the odds. How should we ensure that gains are maintained, more barriers are broken and new frontiers are established in all aspects of life?

The gender equality challenge is about humanity and development. There is a direct relationship between the empowerment of women and reduction of poverty. If women can’t improve themselves, who suffers? How seriously do we want to address the problems of poverty, maternal and child mortality and illiteracy if women aren’t empowered? The promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women is in the best interest of everyone. For a better world, girls and women need support, opportunities and access to resources to develop their capabilities, talents and live their dreams. It’s about fulfilling their potentials to improve themselves and their communities. Exclusion and discrimination wastes the important contributions of women.

The bottom-line is that with support women can go very far. What value does society place on women? Hewers of wood or positive change agents? We must reject the iniquitous and seriously flawed socially constructed roles, behaviour and expectations of women and men. There are no sub-humans. You are either human or you’re not. Human beings are women and men. Not half men and men.

The Future Generation
For a better world, women need to shine without limits. The world needs their knowledge, ideas, strengths, presence, stories and experience in all areas. And women must be able to shape their own future. You see until women are full citizens and actors in social, economic, political and technological fields societies can’t benefit from their capabilities. It is a local, national and global concern (for equality, self discovery and sustainability). The empowerment of women is not a luxury but a necessity for a sustainable world. Global recognition and celebration of women is based on the realization that the empowerment of women is a condition for a better today and a REAL future of hope. It isn’t just about today. What about young girls and boys? The future generation?

Technology is the infrastructure of today’s world. It is a powerful tool that affects our future; it can’t be ignored in the quest for empowerment. Can we really talk about the advancement of women and gender equality in the absence of technology? Who are we kidding?

Jide Awe

Master Computers
Nigeria Computers

Nigeria Computer Society

Nigeria Computer Society
- promoting change and development for all