By Asmau Ahmad
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA Nigeria) has trained 120 girls on how to curb Gender-Based Violence (GBV) through the use of information technology.
Mr Albashir Ibrahim, the UNFPA Digital Litracy Facilitator, said this at a one-day training on Coding Bootcamp and Digital Design Thinking for internally displaced women and girls in Maiduguri, Borno State.
He said UNFPA decided to organise the training so as to tackle gender digital gaps through coding bootcamp programmes.
Mr Ibrahim, who said that the training was in commemoration of the 2023 International Women’s Day (IWD), added that the move would help in providing innovative solutions to the problems of women and girls.
The IWD is an annual UN global observance marked on March 8 around the globe to raise awareness about issues that affect women and girls.
The 2023 celebration has “Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality” as its theme.
The UNFPA literacy facilitator, therefore, said “the women, selected from different organisations, schools and vulnerable communities were trained on improved access to technology to check GBV.
“As you are aware, access to internet and use of technology is largely a male affair. This programme will, therefore, provide opportunities for girls to meet like minds in different fora where they can share opinions and express themselves to solve their problems.”
Group photo of participants, UNFPA staff during coding bootcamp in Maiduguri
The UNFPA Resident Representative, Ulla Mueller, said women and girls pay a heavy price during conflicts and emergencies, adding that conflicts, climate shocks and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated gender inequalities.
Mueller said that a record number of people around the world were displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance and access to essential services, with women and girls paying the heaviest price.
She said “conflicts affect women and girls the more, causing displacement, increased vulnerability to violence, sexual abuse and exploitation.
“Many of them pregnant may need medical care or help with complicated pregnancies. The lack of access to healthcare in these situations puts their lives at risk.”
She noted that as for the Humanitarian Needs Overview for 2023, an estimated 8.3 million people are in need of assistance, with women and children constituting 81 per cent (6.7 million).
“And out of the 8.3 million people in need, an estimated 1.8 million individuals, mostly women and girls, will require GBV services in 2023 across the BAY states, with Borno having the bulk (48 per cent).”
Mueller, however, said that this year’s theme of the International Women’s Day, “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality” highlights the role of innovative technology in promoting gender equality and meeting the health and development needs of women and girls.
She listed gender-based barriers to digital technologies to include discrimination, harassment and limited mobility, especially in the case of women and girls in conflict situations.
Mueller said that the gender digital divide has significant implications for women and girls’ economic empowerment, education and participation in civic and political activities.
The country representative added that the programme that has benefitted some 120 women and girls in Maiduguri is not only aimed at bridging the gender digital divide, but also providing digital economic opportunities to the vulnerable group that the 14-years armed conflict has ripped off all their resources.
“This Coding Bootcamp and Design Thinking workshop which UNFPA is hosting today is just one of the activities planned across Nigeria to commemorate this year’s IWD to tackle gender digital divide in Nigeria.”