The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission Proffessor Umar Garba Danbatta, has emphasized the important role played by women in the country’s socio-economic and political space while underscoring the need to empower them in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as an enabler for social change.
Professor Danbatta stated this while delivering a goodwill message at a webinar organised by Communication outfit, Zinari Communications Limited with the theme: “Mainstreaming Rural Women Enterprise Development into Digital Economy Initiative: The Opportunities, Strategies and Constraints.
Professor Danbatta, who was represented by the Head, Online Media and Special Publication, NCC, Grace Ojougboh, said there is no doubt that women have been historically central to socio-economic and political development of any nation and stressed the need for nations to focus more on how ICT can be leveraged for increased empowerment for women.
He said there has been a general concern that unless the gender divide between men and women is specifically addressed, there is a risk that ICT may worsen existing inequalities between women and men which could create new forms of inequality.
The NCC boss however noted that if the gender dimensions of ICT in terms of access and use, capacity-building opportunities, employment and potential for empowerment are explicitly identified and addressed, ICT can be a powerful catalyst for political, economic and social empowerment of women, and the promotion of gender equality.
Professor Danbatta advocated increased collaboration between public and private-sector stakeholders towards advancing gender equality and women empowerment, notably by encouraging young women and girls to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The EVC said the Commission will continue to play a pivotal role in driving the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy document (NDEPS), 2020-2030; the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 and similar policies aimed at increased connectivity to all the citizens to bridge gender digital disparity.
He said the Commission constantly provides the necessary infrastructure that will guarantee ubiquitous access to telecoms services through the implementation of these policies while listing other initiatives undertaken by the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), all aimed at boosting connectivity and provision of ICT tools among citizens, regardless of gender, across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
He listed the initiatives including the Community Resource centers (CRS), School Knowledge Centers (SKC), E-accessibility projects, among others.