As part of activities to commemorate International Women’s Month, in March 2023, the UN Women Nigeria Country Office in collaboration with the office of the UN Resident Coordinator, organised a showcase event to promote the initiatives of young women and men in Nigeria who are using technology and digital innovation to advance gender equality, women’s empowerment, and inclusion, which was in line with the International Women’s Day theme for 2023 “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality.”
Nigeria’s youth population is growing exponentially, with more than 50% of her over 200 million population being classified as youths with an estimated median age of 18. Likewise, Nigeria’s technology, information, and communications sector is becoming one of the country’s fastest-growing industries.
In her opening remarks, the United Nations Women’s Country Representative, Ms Beatrice Eyong, stated that the theme is a reminder of technology and innovation’s role in empowering women and girls and achieving gender equality. She pointed out event also demonstrated how digital innovations by young men and women in Nigeria could solve a variety of issues across sectors of society – health, social, financial, and medical, access to markets and environmentally conscious products and energy solutions; and how these technologies could be used to benefit women and enhance gender equality. She, however, decried the continued gap regarding representation in employment and education in the technological sector in Nigeria.
The showcase event featured 22 young women and men (70% women and 30% men) aged 18–35 using technological innovations and tools to promote gender equality, women’s empowerment, and inclusion. These initiatives ranged from mobile applications that provide support resources to training female programmers and developers, reporting sexual and gender-based violence, to providing educational and personal development resources. There were also innovations for breast cancer detection, smart crop spraying, digital learning, audio translators, payment simplifiers, medical guidance, menstrual products, energy conservation, employment, e-commerce, agricultural solutions, sexual health education, talent nurturing and one which promotes a safer taxi experience for women and girls.
The event also featured special remarks by the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Matthias Schmale called for action in digital literacy among women and girls, promotion of women’s leadership in science and tech, and an end to the pervasive issue of violence against women and girls in the digital space. Furthermore, he urged the Nigerian government to do more by increasing investment in science and technology.
Dignitaries and key partners, including the ambassadors of Japan, Norway, France, Finland, and Mexico, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Science&Technology, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, etc., commended UN Women for the initiative in putting the showcase together and emphasized that the Nigerian government should prioritize gender equality in the tech space. They pledged their continued support to UN Women in its work to secure a more inclusive tech space for women and girls while encouraging young entrepreneurs to believe in themselves, collaborate, think creatively, and never accept failure but keep pushing to make an impact.
The UN Women-Buy-From-Women initiative, a cloud-based enterprise and e-commerce platform that links women farmers and entrepreneurs to markets, information, and finance, was also presented at the event to equip economic empowerment programs and empower women entrepreneurs and small business owners in different sectors worldwide. Engineer Bamke Onaok, the first Nigerian Female Mining Engineer, and Ms Ibiyemi Peace, an accomplished miner, were present at the event to deliver talks to the young female tech entrepreneurs, encouraging them with their own stories of excellence to boldly take on the challenges of life, which are no different for males and females, and break the ceilings to succeed.
Certificates of participation were presented to all the young innovators by the UN Women’s Country Representative, Ms Beatrice Enyong, and other dignitaries. Mr Lassana Wonneh, UN Women Deputy Representative, in closing, expressed his delight at the fact that despite the current gender gap in the tech space, women are fast catching up as they continue to populate some of the most distinguished positions in the tech space.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Women – Africa.