In 2016, the Centre of Information Technology and Development (CITAD) conducted research on access to and use of the internet by society and found that women were largely left behind in terms of both use and benefits of the internet. The result of that research was published in a book entitled “INTERNET FOR MEN? The Digital Marginalization of women in Northern Nigeria”, available at https://www.citad.org/download/internet-for-men-the-digital-marginalisation-of-women-in-northern-nigeria/. We followed this with consultations with several stakeholders across the country on how to address the marginalization of women in the digital space. These consultations culminated in the publication of a model National Gender Inclusion Agenda in 2018 (https://www.citad.org/download/overcoming-gender-based-digital-exclusion-in-northern-nigeria-a-strategy-document/). Since then, CITAD has been consistently campaigning and calling on the government to articulate a national gender digital inclusion agenda to address the glaring digital marginalization of women.
It was this campaign that led to working with the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum Team to institute the convening of the annual Women Internet Government Forum as a special pre-event of the National IGF at which issues pertaining to women and internet, and in particular, their inclusion in policy making of the digital space, are discussed with a view to ending the gender digital divide in the country. While progress has been made in raising awareness as well as in understanding the key driving factors for the persistence of this gender digital divide, there had been no systematic and policy-based response by the government to tackle this serious development problem.
It is this respect that we welcome the announcement by Mr. Kashifu Inuwa, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) of the government’s Gender Digital Inclusion Strategy (DGIS). The announcement was made at the United Nations International Women’s Day celebration organized by FGN Women Ambassadors Network (FWAN-NET) in Abuja. While we await to see the full contents of the strategy, we commend NITDA for finally seeing the wisdom in having a strategy that can address the various ramifications of gender digital divide in the country.
We hope that the contents of the Strategy document will be speedily make public and all necessary mechanisms, resources and plans for its full implementation be put in place. We also hope that implementation will be driven by wide consultations and engagements of stakeholders, especially women groups in the country. We urge for purposeful and diligent implementation that is backed by rigorous and robust monitoring plan to ensure that progress is being tracked and challenges on the way are appropriately addressed.
CITAD commends the visionary leadership of both the Director-General of NITDA and the Minister of Digital Economy and Communication for the foresight in recording this national milestone for digital gender justice in Nigeria.
Y. Z. Ya’u