Port Harcourt – The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) on Tuesday said millions of Nigerian women and girls were discriminated and denied access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) by parents and guardians.
The Chairperson of Rivers branch of APWEN, Mrs Anthonia Ohagwa, disclosed this at a workshop in Port Harcourt with the theme “Leveraging ICT for Economic Growth and Development of Girl Child and the Nigerian Woman.’’
Ohagwa said girls were being deliberately denied access to ICT, education and healthcare in favour of boys, adding that the denial had affected the psyche and mental development of many girls across the country.
She said “we are gathered here to address the issue of gender-based digital divide and raise global awareness of societal changes brought by the Internet and new technologies.
“The Nigerian woman and girl-child has been left out of the accruing benefits in ICT, as they are often discriminated from the earliest stages of life, through childhood to adulthood.
“Low status accorded women and girls is reflected in the denial of fundamental needs and rights, and in such harmful attitudes and practices as preference for sons, early marriage.
“Others are female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, incest, sexual exploitation, discrimination, less food and less access to education, ICT and Internet.’’
The chairperson said ICT was catalyst for national development, economic growth, job creation and offered women and girls unique opportunities to develop their entrepreneurial skills.
She then urged relevant government ministries and agencies to formulate regulation and implement policies that would address the issue of ICT discrimination.
According to her, this will promote device ownership, skill acquisition opportunities whilst creating enabling environment for the girl-child and Nigerian women.
Ms Aisha Mohammed, a 14-year-old SS1 student urged parents to allow their female children and wards to have access to ICT.
The teenager said the development would enable girls to acquire basic computer knowledge and skills that would enhance their academic pursuit.
She added that “nowadays, most interviews are computer-based, and as such, many girls and women find it difficult to operate digital devices partly because many parents deny their female children access to ICT.
“Parents should also allow their female children to have access to mobile phone because if they can operate Android phones, then it will make it relatively easy for them to operate computers.’’
APWEN is an educational Non-Governmental Organisation, and a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE). (NAN)