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Technology at the service of women in Africa

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Technology at the service of women in Africa

The second Women in Tech Africa Awards honoured outstanding women leaders. They are a source of inspiration for the next generation and hope for a bright future.

Barriers to women’s emancipation in Africa

Over the past four decades, the technological and digital divide between the genres has widened. In this sector, one in five people is a woman. Although Africa has made significant progress in terms of women’s digital inclusion, several obstacles still stand in the way of women’s emancipation. According to the UN, half of the 3.7 billion unconnected people in developing countries are women and girls.

Socio-cultural barriers such as gender stereotypes and patriarchal traditions also hinder women’s empowerment. The lack of rights, resources, and economic opportunities, especially in rural areas, is another major obstacle to the emancipation of African women.

This exclusion has resulted in a loss of 1,000 billion USD in the GDP of low- and middle-income countries over the past decade. It is estimated that this could rise to 1,500 billion USD by 2025. Women in Tech (WiT) aims to reverse this trend.

Women in Tech (WiT): a pioneer in women’s technology

Founded in 2018, Women in Tech positions itself as the first global organization dedicated to inclusion, diversity, and equality in STEAM fields. Its mission is to unleash the full potential of women in technology. Headquartered in Paris, the organization extends its influence across 48 countries and six continents, with more than 200,000 members.

WiT provides opportunities and skill-building programs that have benefited 67,000 individuals. The organization is active in education, digital inclusion, business, and advocacy initiatives. Its main goal is to empower five million women and girls by 2030. It aligns its activities with the 7 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has already impacted the lives of several thousand people around the world.

WiT Awards ceremony

Each year, WiT organizes awards ceremonies to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the technology industry. These events begin at the regional level, with winners then being nominated for global honors. The multi-category awards recognize excellence in areas such as innovation, education, and social impact.

  • Emerging Teens Award: dedicated to a promising young person who demonstrates exceptional potential and a remarkable passion for technology.
  • AWS Innovation Award: presented to an individual who has made the most significant impact by challenging the status quo and pushing boundaries within the technology industry.
  • Powered BY MELTWATER Best Ally Award: recognizing a partner who actively champions women in technology and fosters an inclusive and supportive environment.
  • Most Impactful Initiative Award: Recognizing a project that has had a notable impact on promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion in the technology sector.
  • Woman in Web 3 Award: given to a woman who has made a significant contribution to the emerging field of Web 3 technologies, such as decentralized finance and digital currencies.
  • Arts Award powered by Amazon Music: Recognizing a woman who has effectively integrated technology with the arts to revolutionize the artistic experience.
  • Women in Tech® Startup Award: Recognizing a startup founded or co-founded by a woman that demonstrates exceptional innovation, growth potential, and positive impact in the technology industry.
  • Global Leadership Women in Tech® Award: Honors an exemplary female executive who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and made a significant impact on a global scale.
  • Absa Bank’s Women in Tech® Lifetime Achievement Award: the highest honor at the Women in Tech Global Awards. Awarded to a woman who has dedicated her career to the technology industry, consistently contributing to its advancement and leaving a lasting legacy.

WiT Africa Awards and African personalities in the spotlight

South Africans Masego and Matlhogonolo Mphahlele were honored with the « Teenage Girls in the Making Awards » for their invention of digital X-ray glasses. Absa’s Tamu Duma won the « Best Ally Award » for actively promoting gender diversity in technology. Bernice Omiunu, founder of Women in Blockchain Africa , received the « Women in Web3 Award ». Among the winners, Thato Mabudusha, co-founder of health startup Zoie Health, was honored with the Women in Tech Startup Award.

Naadiya Moosajee, the co-founder of Womhub, was honored with the « Most Impactful Initiative Award ». Priya Thakoor of Airtel Africa received the Global Leadership Award for her significant impact on the technology industry. Mamokgethi Phakeng of the South African Presidency received the « Lifetime Achievement Award ». These winners will gain international visibility as nominees for WiT’s Global Awards in Dubai on 16 November 2023. What’s more, some of them have already won Global Awards.

South Africa: Leading the way in women’s digital inclusion

South Africa is recognized as the most technologically and digitally advanced nation in Africa. The country has held this position for three consecutive years, according to the Global Innovation Index (GII). It ranks first in terms of innovation within the sub-Saharan African economy. What’s more, South Africa is home to several female leaders in the technology sector, some of whom have won awards at the Women in Tech Global Awards.

Digital X-ray glasses innovators

Masego and Matlhogonolo Mphahlele, winners of the Aspiring Teenage Girls Africa Awards, were also honored with the same award at the WiT Global Award. They will be competing in the 2022 World Final at the Red Bull Basement in Istanbul, Turkey. The twins will also be featured speakers at the Forbes Women Summit in 2023.

During four years of development, the sisters, students at the University of Johannesburg, collaborated with other students to design the prototype digital X-ray glasses. Their inspiration came from a touching anecdote: a teammate who was injured during a football match and had to wait in hospital for an X-ray. Their invention aims to provide a faster, more portable solution than traditional X-ray machines.

Winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award powered by ABSA BANK

Mamokgethi Phakeng, a leading global figure in mathematics education, has been honored with the WiT Global Award’s REALISATION FOR LIFE prize, powered by ABSA BANK. She will receive two honorary doctorates from the University of Bristol in the UK (2019) and the University of Ottawa in Canada (2022). Named Africa’s most influential academic by CEO magazine in August 2014, she has also received honors including the Order of the Baobab (silver) in April 2016 and the Africa Education Medal in September 2022.

Recognized for her outstanding research contributions, since 2018 Mamokgethi Phakeng has donated 20 % of her monthly salary and 100 % of the income from her public speaking engagements to scholarship funds administered by UCT. She founded the Adopt-a-learner Foundation in 2004, which provides financial and educational support for South African students from rural areas to pursue higher education.

A member of the Advisory Council on National Orders and the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa, she was included in Forbes’ inaugural list of Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women in 2020. An honorary member of the South African Science Academy (ASSAf), the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), and the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) since 2021, Mamokgethi Phakeng remains a driving force in education and beyond.

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