Empowering Women Through ICT in South Africa
South Africa is making progress towards ensuring its ICT industry is more inclusive of women and other marginalized groups through a variety of programs. This is in response to the fact that more than half of the country’s workers are women, but only 20% of these women work in ICT.
Techno Girls, a job shadowing program for girls wishing to enter STEM fields, is the result of a public private partnership between the Ministry in the Presidency Responsible for Women, the Department of Basic Education, UNICEF, the State Information Technology Agency and Uwesco Consulting. Job shadowing is completed for 15 days per year, for three years. Once participants finish this, the program supports them throughout their studies.
One beneficiary of the program is Lerato Mhlongo, who hopes to become an information broker. She had the opportunity to shadow Airports Company South Africa. Not only did she learn about the industry, she was inspired by the hardworking women she met there which improved her self-esteem.
Mhlongo is currently studying Information Science at University. She says of her course, “I love the course because I get to gain a lot of knowledge. Once you gain knowledge about a certain thing, you tend to be confident about how you live your life. Your values change and the way you see things changes as well. So doing this degree makes me see life in a different perspective which helps me to structure my life in a way which will help me reach my goals.”
So far, 9,000 girls have completed the Techno Girls program, with more than 2,700 current participants.
Techno Girls is not the only government initiative for including more women in ICT in South Africa. The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services created the Women in ICT forum last year to help women contribute to the industry.
They have also developed an interactive website for women in the sector alongside Telekom, Intel, Deloitte and school Net, to help women access and use ICT. The website will also help victims of domestic violence and crime, and address other challenges faced by its users.
Finally, the Lwazi Digital Literacy Training Project has trained 50 women and girls.
The South African government clearly takes digital inclusion for women seriously and is making great strides in addressing the digital gender gap in the country.
Source: Nosihle Shelembe, AfricanBrains