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Digitization best path to inclusion of African women in labor force

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-03-08 22:21

Concilia Owire operates a train in Kenya. CHINA DAILY

African countries on Wednesday marked International Women's Day with a call to bridge the gap in women's and girls' adoption of digital technology in order to include African women in the modern labor force. This year, International Women's Day focuses on celebrating women driving digital innovation and technological advancement.

While giving her statement to mark the day, Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization's regional director for Africa, said in the African health sector women can be innovators and contribute to transforming the health of all people on the continent.

"According to a 2021 report by the Association of Mobile Operators, inadequate infrastructure, lack of digital skills for the internet and information communication technologies, and gender-related barriers around access to and control over resources are the main obstacles to meaningful connectivity for women and girls," Moeti said.

She pointed out this challenge can be addressed by creating awareness about the digital gender divide, advocating for policies and legal frameworks to keep women and girls safe and promoting women's participation in science and information communication technologies. 

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union, said women, especially young women, should be at the core of Africa's digital transformation and unless the continent zooms in on the contributions of women in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, in a world where innovation is currency Africa's development agenda will be compromised.

According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the world's widest gender gaps in digitization, especially on the mobile internet where over 190 million women are offline. High costs of devices and data plans along with low levels of literacy and digital skills are some of the reasons women are not connected. 

Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank's vice-president for Eastern and Southern Africa, said in Sub-Saharan Africa over 230 million jobs will require digital skills by 2030, yet African women's low level of digital skills cuts them off from emerging employment opportunities.

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