Technology, Innovation and Women in Tanzania.

Carol Ndosi
5 min readJan 12, 2023

Technology is increasingly being used to promote gender equality across the world. From artificial intelligence to virtual reality, innovative tools are being developed to raise awareness about gender issues, empower female entrepreneurs, and eliminate discrimination.

Other technologies are creating new ways to fight against gender inequality. Virtual reality is being used to simulate scenarios and give people a chance to experience different perspectives.

In Africa, technology is playing a pivotal role in empowering women. Innovative initiatives are shifting perceptions and providing access to resources that help break down economic and social barriers.

It has been proven that if the agenda of women’s access and use of technology is promoted then it will help address the many limitations and barriers towards women’s socio-economic growth and further contribute to sustainable development. However, globally women’s representation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is still quite low.

Although the numbers are gradually growing albeit slowly,Tanzania is making progress in promoting gender equality through initiatives related to STEM education and is seeing more female enrolment across STEM subjects and fields from secondary to higher education.

However, according to the same World Bank Tanzania 2022 Policy Note on Improving Gender Balance in STEM Higher Education in Tanzania, we still need to be concerned about the leaking pipeline of females in STEM higher education.

Technology and women hold the potential to transform Tanzania. In recent years, the government has been investing heavily in digitalization initiatives to reduce poverty and create economic growth. Ongoing initiatives through the Ministry of ICT to support this include the ‘Digital Tanzania’ project and current connectivity and infrastructure development through UCSAF.

Both the public and private sector are working to support Women to be at the forefront of this effort and supporting them in using technology to access markets, build networks, develop skills, and improve services. Additionally, more women are becoming entrepreneurs and innovators, launching projects that are creating employment opportunities and improving living standards. There has been an increase in coding classes and hackathons that are creating more pathways for women to gain the skills they need to become successful in this field.

Take the example of Apps and Girls, an organisation that supports girls with capacity building in mobile applications and software development. They have over the years worked with hundred of girls supporting them to bring to realisation several digital solutions that have made it through ideation phases to prototype phases.

Another example of an initiative promoting the women and technology agenda in Tanzania is Projekt Inspire, working in both Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar. The initiative supports girls with entry programs in coding and robotics and activities to encourage them to take interest in STEM. We also have UN Women Tanzania’s Connect Initiative which helping bridge the digital divide by providing coding and digital skills training programs to young girls in partnership with ITU and African Union.

Additionally, in mainland Tanzania, platforms like ShecodesForChange, Coding Programs under COL ICT and Tanzania Data Lab, Apps and Girls, And LP Digital’s most recent ‘Digital Tanzania’ program are providing support and resources to those interested in pursuing a career in technology.

On innovation, a new program under UNDP Tanzania — Funguo Program is working towards supporting and scaling up innovative solutions with a very close focus on gender balance. It is encouraging to note that Women are also utilizing mobile technology to create healthcare solutions, for example the Mobile Afya App — a digital health care solution co-founded by a Tanzanian woman, Mariatheresa Kadushi.

We have also seen that women are involved in the design and development of smart city initiatives, such as the Dar-es-Salaam Digital City, that are transforming the urban landscape and creating more opportunities for women’s economic empowerment.

Innovations like mobile money integrated with digital payment systems and banking services has played a pivotal role in promoting women and technology by making digital financial inclusion for women possible, opening doors to savings and security which has given them access to loans and in the long term improving their economic opportunities.

Additionally, e-commerce and digital learning platforms have also made it easier for women to become entrepreneurs and access resources, example is Panda Digital— a mobile app under Her Initiative Organisation which provides basic digital skills for women entrepreneurs in Tanzania. Social media is also playing an important role in changing the narrative around women and technology through connecting African women with each other, enabling them to share their stories, experiences, and advice. We have also seen social media amplify and spotlight stories of success and rolemodels i.e 100 Tanzania Sheroes which also acts as encouragement and motivation for girls to venture into careers in technology.

https://youtu.be/mA1kl1hVefk

Despite the progress we’ve seen in recent years, there are still some significant barriers preventing women from taking full advantage of the opportunities in technology. Many women lack access to resources and don’t feel confident in their technical abilities.

Furthermore, research has shown that female entrepreneurs are less likely to get access to financing and investments than their male counterparts. Additionally, there is still a digital divide between men and women, with women being less likely to have access to the digital skills they need to succeed in the tech industry. The digital world also needs to seriously address online violence as a limitation towards women using digital platforms and them being courageous enough to design these solutions for themselves. It is time for deliberate interventions and support of feminist technologies that will cater to the current women’s needs in Tanzania.

Finally, there are still gender stereotypes that can discourage women from pursuing a career in technology.

We need to keep working towards addressing the barriers for women accessing, designing and using technology and innovation in Tanzania and we cannot do this without reviewing the current policies in places that should be driving any interventions, development of infrastructure and mechanisms, as well as proper allocation of resources that can also guarantee outreach and leave no one behind in both rural and urban areas.

Most importantly are interventions that can also start in households, what are Tanzanians doing at household levels to promote technology and innovation for women? Are we truly nurturing talents and grooming careers or are we still bounded by the patriarchal socio cultural norms that determine what careers are fit for girls in our society.

There is still so much conversation that we need to have around this and that is why LP Digital is organising for the first Tanzania Women Technology Conference on the 7th March 2023 to that also means to celebrate International Women’s Day’s theme — DigitALL — Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality.

Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter — @carolndosi

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Carol Ndosi

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