.
The most recent Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum highlighted which countries continued to make strides towards ending gender inequality. Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Rwanda were all top performers. The report also revealed that 35 countries have closed the health and survival gap entirely and 25 countries have closed the educational attainment gap. Despite the positive news, too many countries still lag behind, particularly emerging or developing countries. Women in developing countries spend a great deal of time taking care of their families and on commercial activities in communities. These communities can serve as incubators for positive change and governments and civil societies should support programs, centers for community development and social activities that empower women and help to bridge the gender gap. At the heart of the solution is technology. Technology plays an increasingly important role as part of the equation in alleviating gender inequality. Simply put, technology and access to technology can liberate women from isolation. There are many organizations recently that are championing this and have demonstrated the power. For example, expanding women's use of mobile telephones enables their access to information for healthcare, legal rights, security and banking, offering women de facto independence. However, barriers such as gender discrimination, lack of confidence, language difficulties, low literacy and lack of time and money continue to prevent girls and young women from taking full advantage of technology. Overcoming the Barriers The solutions start at school. Educational establishments need to encourage critical thinking and innovation; they need to accommodate ways for girls to participate in extra-curricular activities in order to stimulate new ways of thinking which can help these girls gain skills for jobs in the IT sector. The solutions also come from the government and private industries if they work together. We need greater advocacy and support policies to make internet more accessible and affordable to girls in the developing countries. Offering opportunities such as tools for engaging students in the classroom, making teaching more participatory would encourage student-led research and builds media and digital literacy skills in the process.  Most importantly to ensure that girls have equal access to the equipment. In instances where these girls do not have access to the classroom and or school, it can be brought to them through vocational training or extra-curricular activities.  A growing number of countries are including gender as a key component of their National Broadband Plans, for example Nigeria has recently implemented plans that promotes access and incentives for training women to use internet. Education and awareness with the family is critical. Men and boys need to be engaged as allies in the process.  Their behaviors have to change. When fathers, brothers and male peers are aware, engaged and supportive of the girls’ development and rights, they will be instrumental in changing broader perceptions. Girls need to have access to female role models A recent example comes to mind.  A woman in the Philippines went from being a domestic helper to running her own graphic design company. As a result her children now have choices and opportunities she never had. We often hear stories of rare women at the top of their profession, such as Nombulelo Moholi; Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe or Doreen Ramphaleng-Motlaleng and we celebrate their unique stories. But we need to start celebrating women because of their capabilities, not because they are an exception to the rule. We hear it time and again: to empower a woman is to empower a nation. You invest in a woman and she will invest in her family and her community. It goes without saying that women who have access to an education are more likely to contribute to economic growth as well as make better decisions on health and wealth management. Awareness, advocacy and the education of women is essential if we have any hope of empowering girls in patriarchal societies that traditionally do not treat women as equals. According to a 2010 report by the GSMA and the Cherie Blair Foundation, mobile phone ownership can transform the lives of women in the developing world: Of the more than 2,000 women surveyed from four low- to middle-income countries (Bolivia, Egypt, India, and Kenya,) 41 percent of women reported increased income or professional opportunities, 85 percent reported higher independence, and 93 percent reported feeling safer because of mobile phone ownership. Similarly, Intel’s Women and the Web study—which surveyed 2,200 women from India, Egypt, Mexico, and Uganda—reports that 77 percent of the women surveyed used the internet to further their education. Among other examples, 54 percent of women surveyed in India used the internet for financial services and banking, and 68 percent of women surveyed in Egypt reported that they felt access to the internet gave them greater freedom. These studies have demonstrated the importance for women to be able to understand and use technologies, can have a positive impact on women’s freedom of expression, education and employment opportunities. The business opportunity for getting women and girls online and connected is huge. For example the Women and Web report showed that with150 millions girls and women being online it would create approximately betweenUS$50 Billion and US$70 Billion market opportunity and could contribute to an estimated US$13 Billion to US$18 Billion annually to developing countries’ GDP. The potential for technology to improve lives of women and girls is too large an opportunity to miss. The failure to make use of women’s talent will continue to undermine emerging markets economic development.   About the author: Fumbi Chima is a top executive whose career spans the technology, innovation, and global affairs sphere. In addition to her role as the Chief Information Officer of Burberry, she also serves on the board of Global Affairs Council in Washington, DC, the Diplomatic Courier Global Affairs Media Network. Ms. Chima has been honored with many awards, including the 2015 Trailblazer Award by the Face-to-Face Africa and as one of the Top 100 Women in STEM.

About
Fumbi Chima
:
Fumbi Chima is the Chief Information Officer of Adidas and a Member of the Advisory Board of Diplomatic Courier.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

a global affairs media network

www.diplomaticourier.com

Value of Technology for Girls in Emerging Markets

Masai Mara,Kenya,Africa; October 17.2011 : unidentified student writes his name on the blackboard at school in Masai Mara
January 21, 2016

The most recent Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum highlighted which countries continued to make strides towards ending gender inequality. Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Rwanda were all top performers. The report also revealed that 35 countries have closed the health and survival gap entirely and 25 countries have closed the educational attainment gap. Despite the positive news, too many countries still lag behind, particularly emerging or developing countries. Women in developing countries spend a great deal of time taking care of their families and on commercial activities in communities. These communities can serve as incubators for positive change and governments and civil societies should support programs, centers for community development and social activities that empower women and help to bridge the gender gap. At the heart of the solution is technology. Technology plays an increasingly important role as part of the equation in alleviating gender inequality. Simply put, technology and access to technology can liberate women from isolation. There are many organizations recently that are championing this and have demonstrated the power. For example, expanding women's use of mobile telephones enables their access to information for healthcare, legal rights, security and banking, offering women de facto independence. However, barriers such as gender discrimination, lack of confidence, language difficulties, low literacy and lack of time and money continue to prevent girls and young women from taking full advantage of technology. Overcoming the Barriers The solutions start at school. Educational establishments need to encourage critical thinking and innovation; they need to accommodate ways for girls to participate in extra-curricular activities in order to stimulate new ways of thinking which can help these girls gain skills for jobs in the IT sector. The solutions also come from the government and private industries if they work together. We need greater advocacy and support policies to make internet more accessible and affordable to girls in the developing countries. Offering opportunities such as tools for engaging students in the classroom, making teaching more participatory would encourage student-led research and builds media and digital literacy skills in the process.  Most importantly to ensure that girls have equal access to the equipment. In instances where these girls do not have access to the classroom and or school, it can be brought to them through vocational training or extra-curricular activities.  A growing number of countries are including gender as a key component of their National Broadband Plans, for example Nigeria has recently implemented plans that promotes access and incentives for training women to use internet. Education and awareness with the family is critical. Men and boys need to be engaged as allies in the process.  Their behaviors have to change. When fathers, brothers and male peers are aware, engaged and supportive of the girls’ development and rights, they will be instrumental in changing broader perceptions. Girls need to have access to female role models A recent example comes to mind.  A woman in the Philippines went from being a domestic helper to running her own graphic design company. As a result her children now have choices and opportunities she never had. We often hear stories of rare women at the top of their profession, such as Nombulelo Moholi; Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe or Doreen Ramphaleng-Motlaleng and we celebrate their unique stories. But we need to start celebrating women because of their capabilities, not because they are an exception to the rule. We hear it time and again: to empower a woman is to empower a nation. You invest in a woman and she will invest in her family and her community. It goes without saying that women who have access to an education are more likely to contribute to economic growth as well as make better decisions on health and wealth management. Awareness, advocacy and the education of women is essential if we have any hope of empowering girls in patriarchal societies that traditionally do not treat women as equals. According to a 2010 report by the GSMA and the Cherie Blair Foundation, mobile phone ownership can transform the lives of women in the developing world: Of the more than 2,000 women surveyed from four low- to middle-income countries (Bolivia, Egypt, India, and Kenya,) 41 percent of women reported increased income or professional opportunities, 85 percent reported higher independence, and 93 percent reported feeling safer because of mobile phone ownership. Similarly, Intel’s Women and the Web study—which surveyed 2,200 women from India, Egypt, Mexico, and Uganda—reports that 77 percent of the women surveyed used the internet to further their education. Among other examples, 54 percent of women surveyed in India used the internet for financial services and banking, and 68 percent of women surveyed in Egypt reported that they felt access to the internet gave them greater freedom. These studies have demonstrated the importance for women to be able to understand and use technologies, can have a positive impact on women’s freedom of expression, education and employment opportunities. The business opportunity for getting women and girls online and connected is huge. For example the Women and Web report showed that with150 millions girls and women being online it would create approximately betweenUS$50 Billion and US$70 Billion market opportunity and could contribute to an estimated US$13 Billion to US$18 Billion annually to developing countries’ GDP. The potential for technology to improve lives of women and girls is too large an opportunity to miss. The failure to make use of women’s talent will continue to undermine emerging markets economic development.   About the author: Fumbi Chima is a top executive whose career spans the technology, innovation, and global affairs sphere. In addition to her role as the Chief Information Officer of Burberry, she also serves on the board of Global Affairs Council in Washington, DC, the Diplomatic Courier Global Affairs Media Network. Ms. Chima has been honored with many awards, including the 2015 Trailblazer Award by the Face-to-Face Africa and as one of the Top 100 Women in STEM.

About
Fumbi Chima
:
Fumbi Chima is the Chief Information Officer of Adidas and a Member of the Advisory Board of Diplomatic Courier.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.