Gender gap in technology: Parents told to enforce aggressive digital education for the girl child

Executive Director for African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA), Edna Kum

The Executive Director for African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA), Edna Kuma has made a strong argument for parents to be keenly interested in digital education for their children especially the girl child.

While speaking in an interview, Miss Kuma stated that the huge gender gap in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector can drastically reduce when parents become interested in their wards’ education in this field.

“The adult-Ghanaians don’t know much about the digital world. When you talk about it to some adults, they say they don’t want to have anything to do with it and I always get shocked and surprised.”

The Executive Director for AWLA’s comment follows the 2021 celebration of the International Day Of The Girl Child under the theme; “Digital Generation, Our Generation” on October 11. Madam Edna Kuma further reiterated that using technology tools to educate, inspire, and equip school girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields come with a lot of advantages such as reducing teenage pregnancies.

“In Ghana, the learning process is so slow. Adults who are supposed to encourage their children are not interested.

“A lot of children who don’t have parents who are interested in the digitisation, it becomes very difficult for them and they’re lagging behind,” Miss Kuma emphasised.

She allayed the fears of some parents who express concern about cyberbullying.

“They (parents) are fearful of what they don’t know. You can start with a device that’s only on teaching for your ward because those ones don’t have content that will expose your child to cyberbullying,” she added.

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She acknowledged that even though there have been efforts towards bridging the gap over the years, COVID-19 exposed the weaknesses as  many communities are lagging behind due to lack of access to basic devices.

“The COVID-19 showed it all. During one of our works in Techiman and Kintampo District of Bono East, it was very difficult for children. Children had to rely on Radio sets from neighbors in order to learn digitally when schools were closed down.”

“A lot of the children didn’t even know what computers are. The girl child in Ghana is handicapped when it comes to digitisation particularly in rural areas.”

Even in urban areas the Executive Director for African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA)  said children who are privileged to attend high class schools are usually the ones enjoying the digital education.

“Even in Accra here, how many children? The children whose parents can afford the laptops or the tablets are the ones that are privileged.”

“Most of the children who attend the local authority schools are handicapped. I don’t even want to seclude the girl child; it’s entirely the children. We have to really move ahead to help this children,” Madam Edna Kuma said.

Statistics On STEMAccording to a 2016 report by the World Economic Forum In Africa, 30 percent of male students were graduating from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs with females making only 16 percent.

The report said Girls’ performance in STEM subjects are not responsible for this disparity.

However, possible factors that contributed to this gender gap in STEM programs in Africa include women’s self-efficacy, stereotypes and social norms surrounding what fields are considered “masculine” or “feminine.”

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Furthermore, women in Africa also face barriers outside of academics. For example, pregnancy, nursing, and childcare make earning a STEM education difficult and sometimes unachievable.

Empowering Young Girls

Meanwhile, the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) since April 2020, has been implementing a project dubbed “Strengthening Communities against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) within the Bono East Region of Ghana.

Project seeks to create a friendly environment for girls and women to know, claim and exercise their rights to end sexual and gender-based violence across Ghana.

AWLA, in collaboration with empowered district and community stakeholders, has engaged in sensitisation programs the on dangers of gender-based violence against girls and boys, and leading monitoring actions against the canker which remains a threat to the education and development of many girls in Ghana.

The intervention which is supported by the EU, Oxfam-Ghana, and WiLDAF, is consistent with the objective of the Oxfam-EU Enough projects.

By Sefakor Fekpe