Experts have stressed the need for governments and organisations to adopt effective policies and technologies to foster digital innovation among women in Africa.
This was made known by a panel of experts, during a recent webinar themed ‘Thriving with Digital Skills as a Woman’ organised by Africa Prudential Plc, to commemorate the 2023 International Women’s Day.
Panellists featured at the event include Country HR Manager Nokia, Phil Maduagwu; Head of Product Expansion, Paystack, Khadijah Abu; Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Backdrop, Damilola Odufuwa; and former Country Director, MFS Africa, Folakemi Falodun.
In her keynote, Chief Information Officer of Global Technology, Fumbi Chima, noted that the promotion of tech education and gender equality policies in companies, businesses and communities would remove barriers to women fulfilling their potential.
Chima highlighted the importance of business education for women entrepreneurs, while urging organisations to employ more women and digitally upskill them across diverse departments.
She said, “There is lack of representation of women in the workforce, leaving much work to be done to bridge the gender gap. Companies need to employ more women and train them in digital skill programmes.”
The amazon also noted several leadership principles that women in business could employ to achieve success in their respective careers.
“Women need to be confident and assert themselves. You have to own the room and become an agent of change. Whether you are a female entrepreneur or professional, keep sharpening your skills to rise above the challenges. You must broaden your perspective to attain growth.”
On gender bias in the workplace, Damilola said companies need to adopt gender-friendly policies to help sustain gender balance and foster innovation.
She said, “Women experience difficulties in corporate organisations due to the gender pay gap. The gender pay gap has a compounding effect that results in a woman’s reduced earning capacity over time. On average, women are less likely to progress as far as men in their careers because of this bias. We need men, who are policy makers and who have access to funding, to support women in this regard.
“Women have the natural ability to be creative and innovative. The challenges female entrepreneurs face in raising funds for their businesses reveals how much of a gap exists in the society. We need support from the government and from accelerators to improve implementation of existing policies to promote the inclusion of women.”
Maduagwu, on her part, emphasised the importance of the digital inclusion of women, stating that it is crucial to improving the global supply of talents and increasing innovation sources required to tackle existential challenges.
The human resource manager noted that women in rural areas need to be enlightened on digital girl-child education, as digital literacy is key in today’s world of learning and earning.
“Putting women and girls at the centre of digital development is important for socio-cultural growth. We urge corporates to grant access to mobile learning tools to these communities and empower rural women across these areas.”
Abu, in her closing remarks, encouraged women to be persistent and keep strengthening their digital skills. She lauded Africa Prudential for its free tech-training programme called i-Academy.
The i-Academy programme is an initiative of Africa Prudential, designed to nurture and grow well-rounded technical talents through free nine-month training.
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