UN CSW: Nigeria’s envoy pushes for digital gender equality, women empowerment

AMB. George Edokpa, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN has highlighted the need to provide opportunities in science and innovation to women to enhance gender equality and women empowerment in Nigeria.

Edokpa said this at a side event organised by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, in collaboration with the World Bank on the sidelines of the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) in New York.

The two-week CSW67 session, which started on Monday, focuses on innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.

“We need to provide more opportunities in science and innovation to women. We must strive to get girls into science education and to ensure their rightful place in these professions and industries.

“We must promote the education of women in science and technology fields by facilitating scholarships and training opportunities by dismantling gender stereotypes that discourage women from entering into these fields.

“We must also take action to stop online harassment,’’ the envoy said.

According to him, it is important to underscore that education and empowerment of women and girls are critical to national development.

In this regard, he said, girls and women should be granted wider access to information and communication technologies.

Edokpa said: “This is because their empowerment is critical for the future of the world.

“As we move further into the information age, women and men need to be equally represented as shapers of our increasing digital world.

“One way to inspire and empower girls and young women is to showcase success stories in order to attract more girls and women into the sector, as the ICT sector needs more girls and women.’’

Edokpa said that the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), especially of mobile communications had increased in the past decade.

He said revolution became evident with more high paying job opportunities in the ICT sector and the flexibility of options that it provided.

“It is therefore critical for Nigeria to ensure that our women and girls are properly educated and well trained in the use of ICT, if they are to leverage ICT for empowerment and better outcomes in life.

“Technologies are the best and the most effective tools for making change, even as Nigeria and the rest of the world transit from the traditional economy to digital economy,’’ the envoy said.

He, however, urged digital technology companies, including internet providers to make services and technologies affordable and accessible to developing countries, especially Africa countries to harness the power of digital revolution.

According to him, availability of technology will address digital divide and discrimination against women and girls, which threatens the progress made on women’s and girls’ education in the realisation of the 2030 Agenda.

In her goodwill message, AU Permanent Observer to the UN, Ms Fatima Mohammed also shared her perspective on the theme of the event.

The envoy said that technology and innovation had the potential to transform education for girls and advance gender equality.

She said empowering girls through innovation and technology could also lead to economic sustainability.

“At the AU, we recognise the need for innovation and technology and its potential to transform education in the digital age and advance gender equality and empower girls and women,’’ Mohammed said.

Also speaking, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, called for empowerment of girls and women in Nigeria.

“There is no way of helping 100 million Nigerians out of poverty if women and girls are not fully empowered,’’ he said.

The First Lady of Ondo State, Mrs Betty Akeredolu, also spoke on her pet project `BEMORE’, aimed at equipping girl-children with the knowledge of ICT.  (NAN)