The world marked International Women’s Day with a renewed commitment to shattering the barriers that hinder women and girls from achieving their full potential.
The theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, aptly speaks to the quest to empower women and girls in the Digital Age.
The gender gap in digital access undermines socio-economic inclusion as the world witnesses unprecedented technological innovation.
There is a need to eliminate the bias, stereotypes and discrimination that women face in society and the workplace as a result of digital inequalities. Narrowing historical gaps in tech innovation in this era of breakneck digital advancement is crucial to unlocking immense opportunities for half of the world’s population.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data show the number of patents filed by women inventors has increased in recent years. Society has benefited greatly from the innovative and creative work of women in the scientific and technological fields.
However, uneven access to ICT is driving inequality in the tech space. For example, the GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report 2022 shows that globally, women were 25 per cent less likely than men to use mobile internet.
Closer home in Kenya, 36 per cent of women are using mobile internet compared to 59 per cent of men. This gap in connectivity is an impediment to women’s digital empowerment.
This underscores the urgency of integrating gender equality in the innovation ecosystem by amplifying women’s contribution to the creation of new technologies.
Gender equality is first and foremost a human right and the fundamental basis for a more inclusive and sustainable society. We must eliminate inherent gender prejudices and misconceptions that constrain women from driving and reaping the benefits of the digital revolution.
Play a bigger role
Women must play a bigger role in transforming the world with new ideas and products. But we must first build an inclusive digital world. As a female digital innovator, I know first-hand the experiences women have to endure in gaining acceptance for their inventions and even as inventors.
Being a woman in the world of fintech is not for the faint-hearted, with all the stereotypes one has to confront, not to mention different evaluations from men. Do they wear too much lipstick or are they too masculine? Are they too loud or quiet? Are they opinionated without being too pushy and brash?
A change of mindset was liberating for me. For instance, I firmly believe in making business decisions on the merit of performance and available data. This has enabled me to remain focused on the goal and overcome the staple of biases against female entrepreneurs and innovators.
Women bring a unique perspective to the creation of digital platforms that in turn promote financial inclusion. Supporting more women-led financial technology (fintech) firms will therefore help accelerate financial inclusion which benefits everyone. Also, increase awareness and dialogue around the mismatch of funding in order to create an equal environment.
Ms Krogmann is the Chief Executive Officer of mTek Services. [email protected] @BenteKrogman