Women In Technology In Nigeria (WITIN), an advocacy group for the less privileged women in society, has called for greater participation of women and girls in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Nigeria. Addressing journalists at the weekend in Lagos, Chairperson of WITIN, Mrs. Martha Omoekpen Alade who is passionate about female involvement in ICT, said WITIN had commenced the involvement of women participation in ICT, with a target to train over 10,000 women and girls in ICT development by 2013. According to her, “the disparity between the men folk and women in Nigeria in having access to basic ICT services has led to gross limitation of Nigerian women in their quest of becoming a major economic bloc in the African sub-region.”
Supported by Google Nigeria in developing and hosting free websites for women involved in small businesses, Alade said WITIN has through its Grassroots Women Empowerment in Information Technology (GWEIT) initiative, developed over 400 websites that are up and running for small and medium business women across the country to upload their goods and services via the internet, and that more websites were being developed and hosted free of charge for women. WITIN, according to Alade, plans to launch the GWEIT initiative in May, but will celebrate the World Girls in ICT Day next week, where it plans to bring girls together from across the country to celebrate this year’s Girls in ICT Day, where girls would be tutored on the need to embrace ICT development.
The WITIN boss listed some identified challenges repelling young girls from pursuing careers in ICT to include: ignorance of the opportunities and benefits of ICT; lack of female ICT role models; unhelpful influence of parents and teachers to teach young female at very early stage of life; thinking by girls that ICT is more of hardware, mathematics, algorithms and programming, among others. To bridge the gap, she explained that WITIN was planning an online ICT contest for young girls across the nation as well as the Grassroots Women Empowerment initiative programme.
GWEIT, according to her “is aimed at socio-economically empowering the Nigerian woman, addressing equity issues with regards to gender disadvantaged groups as well as those in the rural and underserved communities through the use of ICT" The project, she said, would be implemented across all the states in Nigeria with the aid of WITIN volunteers who will gather the data of women for the programme.
The WITIN Chairperson explained that the project would achieve, among others, in creation of online presence with global patronage, so that anyone can locate their remote markets online; Google listing to make their site more searchable on the internet; Google maps to make their physical site store easily traceable; Google Analytics to monitor and trace site traffic; matching mobile site for easy access on mobile phones and access to business forum with thousands of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Nigeria.She noted that using ICT to promote socio-economic empowerment of women and address equity issues with regard to gender, disadvantaged groups as well as those in rural and under-served communities has become a matter of urgency in Nigeria, if the country must achieve her Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).