Paradigm Initiative calls for Digital Gender Equality for Women
By Samuel Ouma
African Governments have been called upon to urgently initiate reforms to bridge the digital gender divide currently being experienced on the continent.
Paradigm Initiative (PIN), a leading Pan African organization advocating for digital rights and inclusion in the region, made the call as it joined countries worldwide in commemorating International Women’s Day under the theme, DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.
“Today, we bemoan the extent of the digital divide across Africa and call for urgent reforms. We note with concern the online barriers that violently expel women from participating meaningfully on the Internet and call for policies and practices that enable women to connect and stay on board, without digital discrimination.”
Paradigm Initiative, which every year publishes Londa, a report highlighting the state of digital rights and inclusion in Africa, said women in their diverse capacities, including women journalists, politicians and celebrities, are subjected to various attacks manifesting in the form of cyber harassment, non-consensual sharing of intimate images and trolling, pushing many from the Internet.
The 2021 edition of the report elaborates on the realities of the rampant exclusion of women from online platforms due to online gender-based violence and poor access to digital technologies.
Ms. Thobekile Matimbe, the organization’s Senior Manager, Partnerships and Engagements, was categorical that a dual approach is imperative for women to be safe online.
“We need legislative frameworks that create a safe space for women online and hold perpetrators accountable on one hand and security sector practices that acknowledge the problem and hold perpetrators to account,” she said.
Also, as highlighted in Londa 2021, government policies and budgeting should reflect a conscious effort to address digital inequalities as this ensures women have better access to devices such as smartphones and affordable data to be online.
PIN researches women’s rights online, including access issues and online gender-based violence, to provide facts and figures in an otherwise under-reported area.
It also provides litigation support and guidance to help navigate the legal system where rights have been violated and reported on the organization’s digital reporting platform, ripoti.africa.
Paradigm Initiative believes that access to digital technologies and the Internet are fundamental enabling rights and is committed to working with partners in Africa to bridge the digital divide and empower women.