Digital Literacy: Nigerians need a change of mindset to encourage more girls—Girls Rights Advocate

Thursday, March 16, 2023

In commemoration of the 2023 International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrated on 8th March, women right activists and youth empowerment experts have called on government and other stakeholders to continue to raise awareness about the importance of gender equality and the need for continued action on the part of all stakeholders.
This call was made through a Twitter Space event, organized by Development Communications Network in line with the global theme of IWD - #EmbraceEquity.
Guest speakers at the discussion titled ‘Bridging the gender digital gap, role of stakeholders’ were Betty Abah, Founder & Executive Director of CEE-HOPE, a Girl Child Rights and Development nonprofits organization,  and Iwalola Akin-Jimoh, Executive Secretary, Youth Empowerment Foundation, a nutritionist and strategic behavioral change communicator with extensive years in women,  youth empowerment and education.
In his opening remark, the event moderator, Olabode Onadeko, said the celebration of IWD was important because of the important roles that women play in the society and a lot more still has to be done in order to ensure a balance in the representation of women in leadership positions while also advocating for their rights to be upheld so as to live up to full potentials.
Betty Abah said theTwitter space conversation around the gender digital divide is really important, looking at both local and international level, at micro and macro levels especially because this is the age that “we call the age of the internet and so many things are dictated by the realities of the internet. So if there's a divide, if there are people that are disadvantaged, I think it's worth highlighting. People who are not opportune to be educated, either because they were not interested in going to school or in most cases, they do not have the resources or their parents did not think it was wise to send them to school, especially when you talk about issues of the girl child.
She advocated further by stating that “the key things I want us to live with is that for example, let me just create a scenario. There is a governor of a state who is a male, Can that governor ensure that the wife and the females around him also have the capacity to become the head of that state? As the MD of a company and you are male, can you ensure that your wife and the women around you, your girls can also have the skills and capacity to become the MD of that big company that you are heading?”
“Also as a farmer, you are a large scale farmer and you are male, can you also ensure that the females around you have the capacity to also be that large scale farmer that you are? I think it's key that we start realizing the fact that there's nothing a man is today, that the woman cannot be. And so if we work with that in mind and as we hope to welcome the gender sensitive Nigeria at all levels without judgment, without anger, just ensuring that everyone of course has access to digital literacy because it's for the good of the society. The more enlightened people are, the more digital skills people have, the better for everyone in the society and the country at large”
Another speaker, Mrs Iwalola Akin-Jimoh added that closing the digital literacy gap is a journey. It is a continuum. “So you have to consciously continue to run programs in the areas of ensuring Nigerian girls and youths are digitally literate. In a couple of weeks now, we'll be celebrating financial literacy. How many Nigerian women run a bank account? How many Nigerian men have banked? You know, all these are key things that we constantly need to put into what we're doing and ensuring that at every given point in time, you're reaching people, you're meeting up to the needs of people and also living like cloning yourself. You are leaving behind disciples who are also doing what you dream”.
“It may be partially true that advancement is a threat to our culture, spirituality and beliefs. So we need to consciously let people know the fact that you know how to use the systems, how to use a phone, you know about social and digital marketing, does not take you away from your culture, does not take you away from your person, your individual. So I think it's important for us to always have that at the back of our minds. And I want to see a Nigeria, where there's a balance in terms of reinforcement of those positive parts of our culture by our digital literacy and those negative aspects of our culture downplayed as a result of our digital literacy. 
Bode Onadeko, the event moderator thanked all participants and speakers as he urged them to continue to leverage all available ICT resources across board so that Nigerian youths, both in the rural and urban areas can expand and compete not just at the national and global level.
Participants at the event were women’s right advocates, Civil Society Organizations and social media influencers, 
You can click to listen to the Twitter Spaces if you missed it.
Akin Jimoh
Program Director/ DEVCOMS