The recent ITU statistics show that the proportion of women using the internet worldwide stands at 48%, compared to 55% for men. In relative terms, this means that the gender gap in internet use worldwide is 12.5%.
Also, according to a study conducted by the NGO "Women and ICTs" on the gender digital divide in Africa, carried out in six African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal), it was revealed that women are one third less likely than men to benefit from the advantages and opportunities of the information society.
However, such revelations don't play in favour of the Government's policy for the promotion and popularisation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) among the various classes of the society, especially women and young girls.
It is within this backdrop that to inject more strenght in the struggle to reduce the gender digital divide that exists in our country and fight against poverty, the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Minette Libom Li Likeng accompanied by the Minister of Women's Empowerment and the Family Catherine Abena Ondoa, on April 29th, 2022, presided over the launching ceremony of activities marking the celebration of the 11th edition of the International Girls in ICT in the conference hall of Minpostel. The event which was organised in partnership with the AFRICAN WOMEN IN TECH STARTUPS association (African WITS) was placed under the theme "Access and Security".
According to the Minister it was the ideal opportunity for the government to sensitise and encourage the young girls and women on the need to engage a career in the ICT sector by pursuing studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), inspire them to work in these careers and increase the inspirational role models of girls in ICT.
In her speech, she mentioned that the government on her part has also engaged in a series of activities to encourage women and girls to take an interest in this field of activity such as; the creation of prizes for academic excellence in ICTs for women within the framework of the Divisional Matinée of Digital Economy, institutional support for female start-ups, the awarding of special prizes to the winners of international innovation competitions, assistance and support for "women in tech" and beyond, for young female scientists and the establishment of a true ecosystem for the development of digital businesses through appropriate supervision such as the Cameroon Digital Innovation Centre (C-DIC).
The government does not intend sleeping on its laureates she announced. "to ensure that young women and girls benefit fully from this innovative and modern field of digital technology, which is mainly dominated by men: a massive information and online training campaign for young girls in STEM, scholarships for the best girls in the ICT series including mentoring by C-DIC, career development and entrepreneurship training, cyber security training, continuation of the Digital Divisional Matinées, with special awards and prizes for female excellence, awareness-raising among women's NGOs and the civil society for the popularisation of ICTs and the promotion of women's right.
This piece of advice did she leave with the participants, I quote, "to you and to all young girls, I make this appeal, be the first to take ownership of these tools. Dare to release your talents and innovate. Several among you have done it. You too can do it, because you are just as competent." End of quote.
As the event unfolded, the president of AfricanWITS, Mrs. HORORE BELL Bebga could not hold back but appreciate the efforts put in by Minpostel, the African Institute of Computer Sciences in Cameroon, the United Bank of Africa to support her vision and encourage young girls in the domain. In continuation, she made mention of a digital challenge competition organised by her association for young girls in some government secondary schools. Amongst the competitors, a few were chosen to expose their digiral innovation projects in the exhibition stance mounted at the event.
Actually, if women can access the internet, it is imperative that they feel safe online. Reason why the on-going Cybersecurity Campaign is in line with this year's theme, "Access and Security", aiming at promoting safe access for girls to the digital environment. In line with this, spots on cybersecurity, the National Anthem of cybersecurity entitled "stop cybercrime' were projected at the event which were very much appreciated by the participants.
It is important to underline that the event experienced online participation from the Secretary General of ITU, the Director of Telecommunications Development Bureau and the Director General of Smart Africa.