By: Rowland Onyeukwu

First Lady of Ondo State, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has charged development partners and relevant stakeholders to invest in the digital skills acquisition of the girl-child.

She made the call on Thursday while addressing the 67th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Building, New York, United States of America.

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Delivering her address entitled: “Digital Skills and Gender Economic Inclusion,” Mrs. Anyanwu-Akeredolu emphasised that technological competence is not an exclusive preserve of male gender.

She noted that over 3,300 secondary school girls had been trained in ICT and Solar technology through one of her initiatives, BEMORE, with sole objective “to equip the girl child with knowledge in technology with focus in ICT and Solar Technology along other life enhancing skills to facilitate competitiveness of girls in the global knowledge economy.”

According to her, “I have always been persuaded that digital skills represent the contemporary compass that one needs to successfully sail through the emerging world, because the skills give its bearer a wholesome advantage, far beyond routinal content creation and sharing.

“Through digital literacy, global and instant collaborations are at the tips of the fingers; just as higher bargaining powers are within reach. The skills help to catch up in the rapidly changing world to be technologically relevant and be economically viable.

“As state actors, we make deliberate efforts to encourage digital literacy among women, particularly the disadvantaged at the grassroots towards achieving economic viability.

“We have repeatedly experimented with various pro-female projects, and most of them yielded amazing results.”

The First Lady charged world leaders to have a rethink about attaching some skills to a certain gender, noting that the discoveries from her boot camp had proved that all skills could be acquired and used by all genders.

She said: “So far, over 3,300 girls have gone through our programme, including those with hearing impairment. Not only did Bemore girls become digitally literate after camp, increasing number of girls are registered into STEM courses in Nigerian universities, with some becoming young business owners and award-winning young leaders, who are ready to take on challenges in their domains.

“One of the challenges a group of BEMORE girls identified was unstructured birth registration nationwide. TEAM BELIEVE (5 BEMORE Girls from Batches 2017 & 2018) built Nigerian first birth registration application- BCReg in 2019.

“BEMORE Girls are increasingly demonstrating that digital skills are gender neutral. They have also put a lie to the supposition that technological competencies are the exclusive preserve of the male gender.

“This is a resounding testimony to the fact that being intentional with gender mainstreaming in technological innovation among secondary school girls is in fact the strategy we need to achieve equity in the digital space to bridge the gender gap and consequently translate the skills to wealth as in the case of BEMORE experience.

“I therefore invite the development partners and other stakeholders in the digital space to invest in the new found bundle of youthful resource we discovered through BEMORE, which if maximized, will improve the economic worth of young Nigerian women on all counts.”


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