ADDIS ABABA – A UN special agency on ICT launched on Monday a joint project to enhance the digital ecosystem and build digital skills for women in three countries including Ethiopia.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has collaborated with the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) to launch the project which will address the ongoing gender digital divide in Ethiopia as well as in Burundi and Haiti.
Across Africa, the proportion of women using the Internet is 12% lower than the proportion of men; in African LDCs, the disparity broadens to a 31% gap.
Combining their resources, ITU and EIF – a partnership of 51 countries and 24 donors, among others to assist poor nations to use trade as an engine for growth – will enhance efforts to benefit women in the three nations, according to the UN agency.
This will be achieved by building capacity at the policy level, increasing governments’ ability to mainstream gender and information and communication technologies (ICTs), and by expanding the horizons of thousands of women entrepreneurs in sectors such as textiles and apparel, and the coffee and cocoa value chains.
“More than ever before, digital technology is a key driver of women’s economic opportunities,” Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General, said. “This partnership between ITU and EIF will result in vital policy support to ensure the sustainable expansion of ICTs where it is most needed and will benefit women as they access and use ICTs to participate fully in their economies.”
The project will focus on nationwide fieldwork specifically working with, decision-makers to ensure that digital economy policies are gender-responsive, and the private sector to create economic opportunities for working-age women in the digital world, among others.
“Building digital skills for women in the least Developed Countries (LDCs) can help women take advantage of growing opportunities – for business expansion, increased market connectedness and enhanced employability,” remarked EIF Executive Director Ratnakar Adhikari.
“This is why I am so pleased that EIF is embarking on this effort together with ITU and the governments in Burundi, Ethiopia and Haiti as a part of its Empower Women, Power Trade initiative, which supports innovative work with women across the LDCs,” he added.