‘Safe Online Spaces Crucial to Close Digital Gender Gap’

By Hilda Mhagama

IN an effort to close the digital gender gap in Tanzania, LP Digital under Launchpad Tanzania has advocated for the formation of gender-responsive policies and laws that promote women’s digital inclusion and safe online spaces.

Managing Director and CoFounder of Launchpad Tanzania, Ms Carol Ndosi made the plea during a virtual symposium on the state of women’s digital inclusion and safe online spaces in East Africa on Wednesday, stressing that it was one approach to help women thrive on digital platforms.

“To ensure digital inclusion, it is critical to developing clear accountability systems,” she said, adding “The current National ICT policy has placed a strong emphasis on gender and special education requirements while overlooking key aspects, such as how it will promote digital inclusion and safe online spaces.” She said it was critical for the policy to guarantee that it integrated gender equality targets across all ICT/broadband and related initiatives, policies, plans and budgets.

They should also encourage women’s active participation in the digital sector, which includes the design, development, production, and governance of digital technology, according to her. Ms Ndosi stated that they have noticed certain rising trends towards digitalization and the digital economy for women since 2017.

These opportunities, she said, include digital marketing, online business, citizen journalism, and content creation, among others.

She believes that for Tanzania to close the digital gender gap, it must continue to focus on four factors: ability through capacity building by offering digital literacy and skills, accessibility to handsets, affordability of data bundle, and content made available on digital platforms.

“A large percentage of women opt not to be active on online platforms due to negative comments that create a dangerous online environment for women. This implies they’re missing out on a plethora of options for themselves and their business,” she noted.

Since 2017, LP Digital has been one of the Tanzanian implementers of the Women at Web initiative under DW Akademie, focusing on women’s digital inclusion and securing online spaces through capacity building, lobbying, and advocacy.

The project advocates for digital literacy and digital citizenship in Tanzania as a way of creating safe spaces for women online to participate fully and use the web for personal and professional development. Women at Web is determined to see gender equality online as much as it is pushed for offline.

According to her, every year in November, the Women at Web regional network, which includes Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, hold a seven-day action campaign aimed at increasing awareness about online safety and women’s digital inclusion.

This year’s focus, she said, is on raising awareness of safe online spaces and accountability from all actors and stakeholders involved, including digital users, respective authorities, and the ecosystem.

According to Tanzania Police Force data, the Cybercrime Unit recorded 18 cases of Online Gender-Based Violence (OGBV) from January to October 2021, 16 of which were resolved and two of which were unresolved.

Source: Tanzania Daily News

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