Digital Skills — A Catalyst for Women’s Digital Inclusion and Economic Empowerment

Carol Ndosi
5 min readJan 15, 2024

In the era of digital transformation, skills such as digital marketing, web design, and coding have become crucial. These skills not only empower individuals but also drive economic development.

The Launchpad Tanzania’s arm on digitalization — LP Digital, has been running an initiative called Digital Tanzania amongst several others, which supports Women and Youth with training and certification of Digital Skills in demand. The 3 months training program launched in February 2023, has to date graduated 2 cohorts of a total of 56 Women Trainees in Coding, UX/UI design, Digital Marketing, Graphics Design and Content Creation for Social Media.

It is important to note that this was our very first training program provided for free with no incentives i.e data bundles and transport allowance. As an organisation, we paid the trainers and provided the space and equipment for learning. Our intention was also to break away from the popular norm of most of these training programs provided by development organizations and inspire the women to commit and develop a culture of personal and professional development.

While the applications for both cohorts were in thousands, each co-hort could only accommodate 36 women trainees across the different courses. We did observe some of the short listed candidates drop out upon finding out there were no ‘incentives’ as the ones mentioned above.

Additionally, one of the main challenges we saw from the very beginning was how the timing schedule for the training sessions was not convenient for most of the women due to their different commitments and responsibilities. The groups were diverse, from entrepreneurs to University students to working professional women. This was addressed by having the trainers and trainees come with a training schedule as per their needs and convenience. This is something to consider for others in the ecosystem to also employ the same tactic to ensure turn out as opposed to subjecting them to rigid schedules.

Needs assessments done at the beginning of every session allowed for the trainers to tailor make training content that was relevant for the trainees as per their aspirations and goals. This also makes it easier to trace impact as it’s a more tangible pathway towards putting the skills to work in their contexts.

Capacity building programs like such, when designed with a user centric approach, enables both parties to be clear on what they want to achieve. For us at LP Digital, it was about bridging the digital gender divide by supporting and increasing the number of women with competent digital skills who can be active actors in the digital economy. For the trainees, they wanted to upskill and use the skills in an ever digitally evolving world and either improve income or/and their businesses, areas of work.

Upon completion, we conducted a survey to gather feedback and recommendations on the program. The experiences exemplify this trend, showing how digital literacy can enhance employability, foster entrepreneurship, and create new avenues for economic participation. Herewith some of the insights from the survey;

1. Practical Application of Skills: Many women have applied their digital skills in various real-world scenarios, such as creating content, managing social media, developing websites, and running online businesses.

2. Empowerment and Confidence: While only a few recorded economic gains i. e saving costs from hiring people for content creation and website development as they could do it themselves now, attracting more customers and increased sales of their businesses from revamped social media pages, and fees from digital marketing gigs for small businesses;The program has boosted the confidence of the trainees in using technology for both personal and professional tasks, leading to greater economic independence and creativity.

3. Bridging the Digital Divide: The program is recognized for its role in reducing the digital divide in Tanzania, especially among young women, by providing accessible digital training and fostering a more diverse and inclusive digital community. This was also visible through the thousands of views on our Youtube channel on the digital learning content in Swahili which we developed to support others who were not shortlisted to attend the training.

4. Future Career and Entrepreneurial Endeavors: The skills acquired are seen as vital for the trainees’ future careers and entrepreneurial projects, offering new opportunities and enhancing their competitiveness in the digital economy.

5. Community Impact: Many trainees have shared their skills within their communities, contributing to digital literacy and economic opportunities for others.

Bridging the Digital Divide

We believe this program emphasizes the importance of bridging the digital divide, particularly in developing countries. The insights from the trainees resonate with this goal, demonstrating how digital skills can be a powerful tool in reducing economic disparities. By equipping individuals with these skills, we can enable broader access to the digital economy, fostering inclusivity and sustainable development.

Gender Equality and Economic Inclusion

Digital skills also play a crucial role in promoting gender equality. By providing women and marginalized groups with access to digital education and opportunities, we can create a more equitable economic landscape. The personal stories of the trainees highlight the transformative impact of these skills in empowering women and other underrepresented groups.

The Role of Education and Policy

To harness the full potential of digital skills, educational systems and policy frameworks must adapt. LP Digital advocates for policies that promote digital literacy and lifelong learning. The insights from the trainees reinforce the need for accessible digital education and training programs that cater to diverse needs and backgrounds.

These personal experiences underscore the transformative power of digital skills in today’s world. As we advance into a more interconnected digital era, fostering these skills will be critical in shaping resilient, equitable economies and societies.

Moving forward, we need to also vigorously address placements and linkages to opportunities for these women as for some of them there is always the question of ‘now what’ after the training. As an organisation we have made it a point to amplify that we have a database of qualified women with digital skills in demand and are always looking to connect them with available opportunities.

If you support gender equality in the digital world and are looking to hire or work with competent women with digital skills in demand, please email info@thelaunchpad.or.tz. You can also visit our website www.lpdigital.or.tz for more details on our programs. We remain committed to contributing to women and youth’s digital inclusion in Tanzania and look forward to more impactful programs this 2024. Let’s stay pushing for progress

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Carol Ndosi

🇹🇿 |Development Advocate|#GlobalGoalsTZ Champion|Feminist|MWF ‘16|Social & Biz Entrepreneur @MaMaendeleo @nyamachomafest @bongofesttz @thelaunchpadtz