A report that asseses women’s accessibility to social media and their online rights to facilitate their active participation in the area has been launched in Accra.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) prepared the report dubbed, ‘Women’s Rights Online (WRO) Report’.
Among other things, the report stated that the policy on compulsory Information and Communications Technology (ICT) education in schools and its integration into the syllabus of teacher training colleges was yet to achieve the desired results.
That was because there were no specific gender targets for women or girls’ digital skills and education.
Currently, less than 20 per cent of women in the country have access to the Internet.
ICT gender gap
At the launch of the report, the Programmes Manager of Freedom of Expression of the MFWA, Ms Dora B. Mawutor, stated that women faced many barriers, including high costs, lack of know-how and a scarcity of relevant and empowering content, as well as social and legal obstacles to speak freely and privately online.
She said establishing specific targets, making the Internet more affordable and improving digital skills interventions for women and girls would ensure that the ICT gender gap was closed.
“Develop a systematic approach to include women and girls in the design and programming of ICT hardware and software so that products, services and content are relevant to women,” the manager stated.
Ms Mawutor said the Internet’s role as a safe space for expression had been undermined by an epidemic of harassment and violence against women and their safety.
She added that her outfit would continue to train and support women groups to create content and also use the Internet and social media tools to amplify women’s voices.
“The Ghana Police Service and the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) must be trained and equipped to fight all forms of digital-enabled violence against women,” she said.
A Deputy Minister of Communication, Mr Vincent Sowah Odotei, said the government was committed to developing a systematic approach to involve women and girls in the designing and programming of ICT hardware and software so that products, services and contents suited them.
He encouraged mentorship and interaction of young women to be ICT conscious.
“We do not want to be just consumers of the technology but also providers. We have capabilities in the country,” Mr Odotei stated.
The Country Coordinator of Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a civil society organisation, Dr Kwaku Ofosu-Adarkwa, called for a new digital policy with gender equality as a core value.
He said policy areas such as infrastructure sharing and open access, market structure, spectrum policies, device access and digital literacy needed to be re-examined.
The Commercial Operations Lead of Google Ghana, Ms Cassandra Mensah-Abrampah, said there was the need to integrate basic digital literacy in school curriculum from primary to tertiary levels.
In addition, she suggested that only teachers with adequate knowledge in ICT should be allowed to teach the subject.