#DigitALL International Women’s Day 2023 — Women and Technology in Tanzania
This is an excerpt from a welcome speech by Carol Ndosi — Executive Director The Launchpad Tanzania at the Tanzania Women and Technology Conference held on the 7th March 2023 at JNICC Hall, Dar es Salaam.
The meeting was attended by more than 250 stakeholders, supporters and women and girls in technology. You can watch the Event here — https://www.youtube.com/live/ntVePPq_1_I?feature=share
Honourable Minister, Information, Communication and ICT, Hon Nape Nnauye, World Bank Tanzania Country Director, Dr Nathan Belete
Representative from Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Ms Tabitha Etutu
Director General, Commission for Science and Technology — COSTECH Tanzania, Dr Amos Nungu,
Representatives from our official Partner — NMB Tanzania PLC,
Eng. Peter Mwasalyanda, representative — Permanent Secretary’s office — Ministry of ICT Distinguished Guests
Tech Enthusiasts and
Comrades in Women development
Good morning, everyone!
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this very important and much needed convening The Tanzania women and technology Conference a platform created and coordinated by The LAUNCHPAD TANZANIA’s arm on Digitalization — LP Digital .
The Launchpad Tanzania is an NGO established in 2018 and co-founded by my Mentor Henry Kulaya and myself. We have been working at the intersection of sustainable development and education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth with a focus on skill and enterprise support, and digital inclusion for Women and Youth.
Our journey as an organization on supporting women and youth through capacity building programs has evolved for the past 6 years, from just providing training workshops to small groups of people in just Dar es Salaam in 2018, to co creating programs on youth and women economic advancement through skills development, mentorship, incubation and linkages to opportunities, to contributing to the new national education curriculum framework and most recently implementing programs on digital inclusion for women and youth which target more than 5 regions in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar.
In our work to support the girlchild and women in Tanzania, we came to learn of the huge gap and gender divide across many fields that has also immensely contributed to Underrepresentation of Women across fields in Tanzania. This inspired us to start a program that would spotlight women’s stories and profiles in different fields that will not only inspire and. give the girlchild real role models to looks up to in different fields but most importantly inspire career pathways for them and mentorship opportunities from those who have done it before them.
This led to the birth of our book and platform called 100 Tanzania Sheroes in 2018- which features 100 nominated Women doing outstanding work in their communities but also breaking the bias in male dominated fields and we truly thank the support of the Embassy of Sweden in this initiative. We launch the 2022 edition tomorrow also in celebration of International Women’s Day and look forward to stocking as many libraries and distributing hard copies across schools in Tanzania.
Through our work as part of a regional network called Women at Web, present in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, a project that was supported by DW Akademie and The German Cooperation for 5 years since 2018, The Launchpad Tanzania also became very involved in the field of bridging the digital gender divide through digital literacy programs and advocacy on safe online spaces targeting different women groups, respective authorities and the masses at large.
Through this project For the past 5 years, notwithstanding the limited number of resources, We have reached more than 1000 women in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Arusha, and Zanzibar providing them with digital skills that include 21ST Century digital Skills, digital citizenship and digital resilience.
However, we also learned that we cannot advocate for digital inclusion and onboarding women on digital platforms, calling on them to explore digital technologies and have effective and meaningful use of the Internet. if we do not address the big elephant called Online Safety. This called on us as an organization to use a preventive and responsive approach by co-designing programs that always ensured we have mechanisms for knowledge, skills and linkages but also avenues on pyscho social safety , digital resilience and mental wellbeing. We have been working with the respective authorities particularly, Tanzania Police Force through the Cyber Crime Unit in addressing and escalating cases reported to us through our hotline and reporting platform.
Engagement on this work made us aware of. how serious the problem of online gender based violence is and led us to explore innovative aways of community mobilization and advocacy considering our targeted demographic which made us to arrive at digital storytelling as a powerful weapon on social behavior change and advocacy. We are proud to say that through our campaigns #MitandaoSalama #MitandaoNaSisi and #MtandaoKatili, through partnership with our Media Partner Clouds FM, we have been able to reach more than 12 million people over the past 2 years.
Now, reflecting on our work on Women and Technology, particularly women’s digital inclusion through capacity building, we are currently implementing a program called digital Tanzania, providing advanced programs on on demand digital skills such as coding, UX/UI design, graphics and 3D animation, as well as digital marketing which also comes with certification. This is to address and contribute to bridging the digital gender divide especially in the digital economy which is very much needed in the country as we head towards implementation of agreements such as Africa Free Continental Trade Agreement. Our first co-hort is at it’s final learning stages and we look forward to having 30 women certified and ready to gain from the digital economy.
Without taking too much from other presenters on this major occasion, who will no doubt speak on the different milestones we have had on Women and Technology, I would like to call on a few things to the Ministry and the ecosystem at large;
As we continue with efforts of bridging the massive digital gender divide, it is important that we reflect on the current policies and environment that is meant to support this agenda.
In addition to the above, government policies and budgeting, should reflect a conscious effort to address digital inequalities as this ensures women have better access to devices such as smartphones and affordable data to be online.
We believe The national ICT policy should reflect conscious and deliberate efforts to address digital inequalities considering the staggerings numbers. We have been insisting on policy reviews for the ICT Policy 2016 which need to take into account the current context and be more precise and specific when it comes to strategies to increase women’s digital inclusion. Much is lacking in the current policy which by the way has no mention at all of the word ‘women’ in it’s implementations strategies; which we find itself to be one of the shortcomings and areas to be addressed if we are to spearhead intentional deliberate efforts in pushing for more engagement and involvement of Women and Technology as a vulnerable and targeted group as emphasized in other sectoral policies.
We also would like to call on COSTECH as the custodian and the eco-system at large to continue to co-create and co-design capacity building programs that target women, are relevant and address their specific needs and speak to their contexts when it comes to digital technologies.
To enterprise support organisations, we would like to insist on improving access to support, resources and linkages for female tech innovators and designers to really push for designing of feminist technologies that are inclusive of a gender lens. This is how we will create and shape female digital futures.
On online safety for women to fully explore digital technologies , we would like to call on review of the Tanzania Cyber Crime Law 2015, to specifically address online gender based violence and law enforcement organs to ensure victims of OGBV get justice on cybercrimes as per the law, as opposed to alternative dispute resolution tactics that have been normalized. We need legislative frameworks that will create and safeguard safe online spaces for women and ensure access to justice and action against perpetrators of OGBV.
We would like to also call on the Ministry to establish mechanisms to support escalation of cases to Social Media Platforms that will push for PLATFORM accountability in regulating and moderating content, particularly in our local language, SWAHILI.
As stakeholders, we are very aware of the tech industry being one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing industries in the world, and it is transforming every aspect of our lives. However, despite the industry’s enormous potential, women’s representation and participation specifically in using designing and promoting digital technology has been significantly low.
It is our hope and determination that this platform which is meant to be held annually will promote and support women’s participation and leadership in this field. This is a unique opportunity to address this issue and to showcase the remarkable achievements of women in/and tech in Tanzania.
We have brought together an impressive lineup of speakers and experts from diverse backgrounds and industries, who will share their insights, experiences, and best practices.
We have an exciting program lined up for you, with inspiring keynote speeches, insightful panel discussions, and our major highlight , the Tanzania women and technology documentary. We hope that you will find the conference informative, engaging, and inspiring of a way forward in advancing this agenda.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ministry for heeding our call and invitation, our official partners World Bank Tanzania and NMB Bank PLC for their generous support, without which, this conference would not have been possible. I also want to express my appreciation to our partners in the ecosystem and we look forward to taking the conversation further with several other events lined up this week.
I would also like to thank our dedicated team and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make this conference a reality.
Finally, I would like to thank all of you for being here today. Your participation and contribution to this conference is invaluable, and we are honored to have you be part of this history.
Once again, welcome to the Tanzania women and technology conference, and we look forward to an inspiring and productive day.
Please follow our work on www.lpdigital.or.tz and Social Media Pages Twitter and Instagram @lpdigitaltz @techwomentz