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PYWV How do we embrace innovation and technology to ending gender based violence?


By:Anne Mugo March 8, 2023

International women’s day is meant to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination and rally action to drive gender parity. This year’s theme is focused on promoting gender equality in STEM. All girls and women deserve equal opportunities in technology and innovation as we drive towards a safer, inclusive and equitable digital future. Engineering and computer science, two of the most lucrative Stem field remains heavily dominated by men wit on 21% of engineering major and 19% of computer majors being women.

The existing gaps in gender equality between women and men, in many cases, is a manifestation of power imbalance tilted in favor of men that characterizes many, patriarchal cultures around the world. Retrogressive norms about women’s subordinate role in society has seen many girls and women steer away from math and science. Too often girls and women don’t have access and opportunities as boys and men. From a young age the social construct has secluded girls and women to belong at homes or rather in the kitchen.

Gender equality is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including participation and decision making. According to UNICEF, gender equality means that women and men, girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protection. Does the stereotype that boys are better than girls in math and science still affect girls today? Unfortunately, yes, this has seen women treated as people who yield no political or social power. In fact, even learned women still have a hard time transitioning to work spaces.

Underrepresentation in STEM education, discriminatory laws restricting women’s economic opportunities enforced by retrogressive gender norms i.e., laws requiring a husband’s permission to work, travel, register a business or even prohibiting women from working in certain industries or past certain hours enables the persistent gender gap in digital access. This also remains a major barrier to women participation in tech design and governance.  The pervasive threat of online gender-based violence coupled by lack of legal resources too often forces women and girls out of the digital spaces.

 Technology has been with us. Digital platforms are opening new doors for global empowerment of women, girls in all their diversities and also the marginalized community. How do we use Innovation and Technology to ending Gender Based Violence?

  1. Build capacity of government and other partners to understand threats and online gender-based violence. Access to information enables exposure to different world views where GBV is considered unacceptable by women in various public roles. The media should also address gender issues directly such as GBV or women’s health. The more information women have access to, the greater understanding they will have of their rights and the less accepting they may be stereotyped into roles that support violence.


  1. Economic empowerment with access to electricity is a powerful engine for women economic empowerment. This in turn is an important component of the factors that make women vulnerable. When women benefit from income generating opportunities, they gain more bargaining power at home and social spaces. Social norms regarding traditional role begin to change to positive hence reduction of GBV cases. Where women’s economic empowerment is a strategy to reduce GBV, access to electricity can significantly enhance those empowerment efforts.


  1. Electrifying institutions that directly support efforts to address GBV such as GBV response centers or health clinics. Safety-studies demonstrate mixed data with respect to the correlation between public lighting and reduction in crime and GBV, electrification and women’s perspective of safety. Women are afraid of being out before dawn and after dusk where there’s no lighting. This alone restricts their movement and activities. In absence of electricity in most parts women are responsible for fuel collection, often requiring them to venture long distances for fire wood in areas where they become more vulnerable to sexual violence. Reduce exposure to risk.


  1. Electrify schools as part of strategies to improve girls learning opportunities. Correlation between access to electricity and girls’ education has seen lighting at home and schools increase girls school attendance and educational attainment levels. Seeing young girls stay in school has been a contributing factor to prevent child marriage. Child marriage is a form of GBV by itself and it increases girl’s vulnerability to violence. Access to safe and accessible education is a principle protective factor for young girls helping to mitigate child marriage.


  1. Incorporate GBV prevention considerations in project designs. Many energy sector investments involve infrastructure development. Infrastructure and development has failed to consider GBV issues resulting in increased risk and vulnerabilities for sexual violence, exploitation and harassment in the community. this is due to infrastructure projects relying largely on men dominated management and labor forces and not engaging adequately with female stakeholders. there is also no consideration for women and girls with disabilities as a lot of places are no easily accessible especially in public facilities.


  1. Improve equality for women in STEM. As much as we advocate for rise of women in tech as key influencers within the industry, diverse role models can empower women and girls in STEM by building work places where women can thrive. The possible impact that energy sector policies could have on preventing GBV, where energy access programs target female entrepreneurs, also engage men as beneficiaries and promote positive male behavior change programming to minimize the risk of increased GBV cases.

 Let’s imagine a world that’s diverse, equitable and inclusive. When we have the same opportunities, the world becomes a better place for everyone. #embrace equity #daretobe