Stakeholders demand more inclusion of women in digital space

Stakeholders, including the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Digicivic Initiative, MacArthur Foundation, What About Us Movement Nigeria, among others, have demanded more inclusion of women in the digital space and decision making bodies.

Speaking Thursday in Abuja, during a validation meeting on report of survey on the presence of women in decision-making of national ICT agencies, the Executive Director of CITAD, Zakari Yau, who was represented by the Gender Technical Officer, Zainab Aminu, said there is need for more inclusion of women in the digital space for national development.

He said: “The programme is to present a survey we did on women participation in 10 of the ICT agencies we have in Nigeria, including NITDA, NCC, NIMC, NIPOST, among others. This is so that we can use that to analyse women participation in leadership positions and in MDAs. Gender digital inclusion is an equal right for me and women. Women need to be given a chance in leadership positions. Women need to be heard and encouraged to participate in the digital space. There is gender marginalization not only in the digital space in all aspects of Nigerian life, including politics.

“Women participation will improve our economy. There are some measures put in place by the government to encourage women, but they need to do more. From our survey, it is obvious that there are some MDAs that are not reaching the 50% demand for inclusion of women. Some MDAs have less than 10% in inclusion of women in policy making, so we are trying to encourage everyone to give women the listening ear and opportunity to participate in all stages. A woman is the only one to understand a woman in all situations. We believe that when a woman is given the opportunity to participate in leadership positions, they will do wonders.

“I encourage the participants to be the change. We shouldn’t just be here to listen and not make use of what we learnt. Wherever we are, we should utilise whatever we get here in our own capacity. We should play our roles in encouraging women participation and inclusion. I will advise the government not to see the activities of CSOs as a challenge to them. CSOs are here to checkmate our activities and suggest improvements and open doors of opportunities. Government should understand how CSOs think and work. That way, we will collaborate in good decision making and for a better Nigeria.”

Also speaking, the Executive Director of Digicivic Initiative, Mojirayo Ogunlana, who worked as a consultant for CITAD to carry out the survey in the ICT-related agencies, said that the inclusion of women in governance is improving, but that more needs to be done.

She said: “What I discovered in the survey is that most of the boards have more men than women. They are not up to the 50% expected in the revised National Gender Policy of 2021 to 2026. Some are just 5%, while some get up to 40% of women inclusion, which is a good number if you look at where we are coming from as a country. What makes it interesting is that the project is targeted at improving that sector itself.

“It is not about condemnation or bringing down a particular institution, but how to make sure more women are included in the management and board. Inclusion of women will ensure that women’s decisions are being made, they will bring the perspective of women into the picture. Therefore, I will recommend that CITAD should work with other CSOs to achieve common goals by engaging the government. Communities are also important, just like the media.”

On his part, the National Coordinator of What About Us Movement Nigeria, Yusuf Shuaibu, advised women to always strive to make a difference whenever they find themselves in leadership positions.

“Looking at the infograph displayed, some organizations don’t have many women on the boards. The reality is that if you are a woman in an organization, you should really know how to represent women. You have to stand for women. You just can’t be indifferent in an organization. Try and push so that your voice can be heard in that organization. Many women invited to boards hardly contribute. They still allow men to make decisions for them. Be ready to take up the stress, kill the mentality of ‘I am just a lady’,” he said.