Mapping The Gender Gaps for African Women in Technology

Sustainable Development Goal 5, Target 5.6 (b) is very clear; to enhance the use of enabling technology in particular Information Communication Technology to promote the empowerment of women. From it I derive power to articulate on the possibility of achieving Goal 5 target 5.6(b) by 2030, 14 years from now. But am thinking if this target would be met with the situation at hand? Anyhow, I’ll let you be the judge.

Technology is changing the world faster, although it is masculine and challenging, yet is worth noticing. One thing that is indisputable is that ICT seems snail in changing women world, as businesses that are feminine related take back seat in ICT drives. As less girls and women continue to miss out in ICT value chain and more men continue to into the ICT world, the balance is clear. Clear to the extent that, how many girls are taught how to develop computer applications, how many are computer literates, how many are into repairs of hand phones and computers, what are we doing to entice girls in digital career? It is superstitious to believe that ICT can promote promiscuous in women and is just an empty excuse. Superstition is a big gap and still a comedy, yet is a strong influencing factor that has hold Africa men’ in captivity for so long too long no matter the background. Undoubtedly, information technology communication vis a viz the internet has changed lives and is still changing lives, it has changed how we do things, what we do, when and where things are done. It has made the world more modern than time. Close boundaries and open borders, rendered the world into small space for all. The only thing as I see that internet is yet to do is bridging gender gaps. Gender inclusivity in technology could be reasonable thing to do if we want a better and safer world for all.

Gender inequality remains obstacle to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and Goal 5 in particular. It is unfair to know that Men still find it difficult to comprehend the undertone of SDG Goal 5 – I. e Gender Equality, and then tighten it in to technology. Think, what does gender equality really mean to men? As they used to ask- “do women want equate themselves men? Or what does United Nations mean by – gender equality? That question needs answer and I know you can tell. But you see it has been extremely difficult to explain this in Africa context to men folk. It has been extremely difficulty to explain the meaning of “gender equality” to African men and is the root causes for resistance. If I may ask, why is it difficult for women advocates to really putting to bear what sort of equality they mean- when advocating for equality? Does this equality mean equating selves to men? What are the qualities of these qualities? What about the benefits now and in future, and even to the children and families? I think if some of this is answered, mindsets and perceptions can be shaped. You know, a lot of men pretend they know what gender and equality is, whereas not. They only turn back within their circle and frame it as affront. Do you know that there are so many misconceptions about gender equality in local communities? Up to global world view? Do a little survey and you will be shocked at your result.

The educated men though hand few are worst at it, while the uneducated men don’t even want to hear about it. Girls are viewed as weak that need no voice. Religiously, a gender is tail and man, the head. Africa perception widens the scope more and relegates women to domestic. I am aware that women and girls are less technologically savvy than men. I ask why? Why men are always trained for emerging opportunities and given priority to access same and on virgin times? Why are women left behind to learn about emerging opportunities later and given last chance to accessing same? Then I realized why the world isn’t fairing better. Imagine if internet educates a woman, isn’t it educating the world as they say?

Preparing girls and women with skills in technology can help, especially now that every job have digital component. Whether it is fruit selling, restaurant business etc, the knowledge of internet/technology can help. But the real problem in Africa is, most girls and women especially those in rural poor areas do not have access to internet, those that can access the internet access it at very high cost; internet is slow and breaking in connection. Internet coverage is still more urbanized; many more do not know how to use the internet with business sense or skill. And I am disturbed. Disturbed on what to do?

UNESCO 2013 report indicates that 65 million children globally do not have access to education. 29 million girls are illiterate in Africa, while 17 million girls are out of schools in Africa. It is somewhat irrational when few men feel threatened when women access education? I mean for instance, how traumatic when we postulate that educated women are not marriageable and make them feel unfulfilled in societal setup. I know though marriage is not the end but means of society alienation. However, all these narratives at times make our women vulnerable and less interested in becoming whom they are.

According to World Economic Forum 2016 Gender Gap Report, that we would not have gender equality in workplace for another 118 years, makes me to concur with the report and see how to contribute to turning the wheel. As girls and women empowerment continues to be resisted by majority number of men, it makes me feel like the women led advocacy has not really helped matters, than creating gender enmity. And as I see, men resistance to gender equality is manifested in bullying, assaulting, bombing, kidnapping and murdering of gender activists. It is humble opinion that, women led advocacy should be reviewed. Advocacies of gender should carry men along in their team work and open up dialogue with men at local levels to international. I will recommend that the UN Women should be led by men and let see if we wouldn’t have new result.

Catcalling: How Does This “Not a Big Deal” Action Affect Women’s Lives?

Catcalling is making a whistle, a shout or a comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by.

Catcalling deeply affects women’s lives; every day in emotional and mental ways.

Firstly, it is a form of objectification. It demonstrates a lack of regard for women’s dignity by men, because they treat women as an object to be looked at and to be touched, and not as an intelligent human beings. In American culture, women’s bodies are constantly and consistently displayed as sexual objects through pornography, mass media and advertising. The unwanted sexual attention experienced in catcalling is another example of women being regarded as sexual objects.

The consequences arise when a woman begins to objectify her, she regards herself as a mere sex object, to experience body shame and to monitor her external appearance. Furthermore, self-objectification is correlated with negative outcomes, including depression and disorder eating.

Harassment by strangers make women feel more scared than harassment by a known individual at work or at home. Principally, catcalling can lead to chronic stress. For example, an individual may receive one catcall on their walk to work. In isolation, this could be an unpleasant and mildly stressful event, or may not have any bearing on that person’s day. However, if this experience occurs every day for months or years, then it becomes a chronic source of stress and can negatively impact mental health. The chronic stress can result into a type of depression called ‘Chronic Unexpected Stress’ (CSU), that includes social stress (such as overcrowding or isolation) and predatory stress (the feeling of presence of a predator). Predatory stress increases inflammation in several brain areas because it is the body’s response to threat, and in the short term protects cells from harm. However, if inflammation is present for a long time, it can start to cause damage. Increased inflammation in the brain has been found in, and may exacerbate Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Sometimes, it can even have a negative effect on learning, memory and mood.