Digital accessibility and intersectionality

Digital accessibility and intersectionality

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) training have often been more superficial than effective, failing to address the prevalent gender gap. This approach suggests that diversity is merely a checkbox for policymakers rather than a genuine concern.

Traditionally, men have been viewed as the cornerstone of stability in line with the advancement of the Internet of Things (IoT), while women have faced intersectional discrimination as they strive to progress. Intersectional discrimination acknowledges social inequalities at the intersection of multiple identities, resulting in fewer women pursuing careers in ICT.

An intersectional approach is crucial for officials to identify barriers and ensure equitable access to ICT across disability, gender, and socioeconomic status. Globally, Internet penetration rates for women are 12% lower than for men, with Africa experiencing a widening gap, indicating disparities that require attention.

Policymakers must recognize the diversity among women based on geographic location, age, education, and socioeconomic status. Addressing these imbalances necessitates a nuanced understanding to determine effective interventions.

Technological advancements have revolutionized STEM careers, yet the widening gender gap in these fields has marginalized women. Recently, James Manyika, a Zimbabwean-American and Google’s first Senior Vice-President of Research, Technology, and Society (RTTS), emphasized the transformative potential of AI during a presentation in Victoria Falls.

Screenshot-2024-05-01-at-12.14.29 AM-873x1024 Digital accessibility and intersectionality
Audry Ashleen Chivanga

AI holds promise for various sectors, particularly healthcare, where it can enhance efficiency and productivity. Audry Chivanga, a 20-year-old Zimbabwean student at the Africa Leadership University in Rwanda, is challenging stereotypes in ICT and AI. Her innovation, Mediqueueless, aims to reduce hospital queues in Africa, while AshleTech, her upcoming digital laboratory platform, seeks to improve access to African health information and extend healthcare to remote areas through real-time doctor-patient interaction.

Gender mainstreaming in ICT is essential for overcoming obstacles stemming from women’s inequality and narrowing gender disparities. However, addressing challenges such as knowledge gaps, entrenched masculinity, and chauvinism requires tailored policies and programs.

Adopting ICT as a tool for sustainable development necessitates new approaches that embrace intersectionality and empower women in technology.

Lovemore Nyawo

Lovemore Nyawo is a development practitioner and a gender expert and My Afrika Magazine columnist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *