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Digital Gender Equality in Africa

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Digital Gender Equality in Africa

The digital gender gap in Africa continues to widen. Despite numerous efforts to bridge this gap, the disparity remains significant.

Challenges of Gender Equality in the Digital Domain

Gender Equality: Benefits to Society

The digital gender gap, defined as the difference between groups with and without access to technology, disproportionately affects women, especially in developing countries. Bridging this digital divide is essential to ensuring gender equality, as women play a critical role in inclusive growth and sustainable development. Studies show that if 600 million women had access to the Internet for 3 years, it would increase global GDP by 13 to 18 billion USD.

Barriers to Digital Gender Equality in Africa

Case of African Women

A recent report by Disrupt Africa provides an overview of the technology landscape in Africa, with a focus on gender equality. The report reveals that of the 2,500 startups in the digital space, only an average of 9.6 % have women at the helm. Of the 711 startups surveyed, only 21 % had at least one female co-founder and 11.7 % had a female CEO.

In terms of access to funding, companies co-founded by women received only 9.1 % of the total funds raised, and startups led by women received only 2.9 % of the total funds.

Digital Gender Gap in Africa

Despite various efforts to reduce the digital gender gap, it persists. In a context of constant evolution and rapid digital expansion, Africa needs to adapt to these changes. While the fourth industrial revolution facilitates the rapid flow of information, it also exacerbates the digital divide between those with access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) and those without.

According to the United Nations, by 2021, more than half of women worldwide will not have access to the Internet, and in Africa, this number has continued to rise in recent years. In developing countries, 14 % of women are less likely to own a mobile device and have access to the Internet.

The causes of the digital gender gap are many, including factors such as education, culture, sexist bias and socio-cultural norms. Technological literacy is also a challenge for women. An OECD report found that women have more difficulty using digital devices than men.

Initiatives to Promote Gender Equality in the Digital Domain

The inclusion of women in the digital domain is fundamental. Measures must be taken to minimize the digital gender gap. Many governments, organizations and private companies have already made efforts in this regard. For example, the African Union Summit 2020 discussed a strategy to promote the digital sector with a focus on the digital gender gap. This strategy is part of initiatives such as the Regulatory Policy for Digital Africa (PRIDA), the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Free Movement of Persons (FMP), and the African Union Financial Institutions (AUFI).

Access to training and digital education for African women

In Africa, access to training and digital education for women is a critical lever for reducing the gender digital divide. Despite socio-cultural barriers, promising initiatives are emerging. For example, among many other initiatives:

  • The Cybersafe Foundation provides cybersecurity training to young women in Africa through the CyberGirls scholarship.
  • The social enterprise Tech4Dev provides virtual learning to young African girls and women through its Women Techsters program.
  • The Women for Africa Foundation is breaking gender stereotypes through its Learn Africa program, which trains women in various fields.
  • The Digital Africa Cluster contributes to the digital education of young girls and women through its virtual university, CDA Academy.

These training programs open up new opportunities for women, enabling them to play an important role in the digital sector.

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