Carolyn shares how safely connecting girls to technology can help build future leaders.
“At Girls Voices, we raise disruptive girl leaders who will demand their seats at the table. ”
Digital tools have completely transformed my life and my ways of getting things done. From online meetings and events to paying the bills and shopping online, there is an increasing need for us to constantly be online to maximize technology and the internet for increased productivity. An expanding number of applications are improving work and collaboration online, and the innovation grows every day as technology and the internet make life and work easier.
While I have the privilege of understanding the power of technology to improve my productivity, many women and girls lack the knowledge, and their phones still fail to serve additional purposes outside calls, messaging, and social media. That’s why I am passionate about digital empowerment for women and girls—and why I work to bring technology to girls in Nigeria.
My nonprofit, Girls Voices Initiative, works to educate adolescent girls and women about their rights in law. We empower them with the skills to use technology and digital media to lead advocacy for the protection of their rights and welfare in society. At Girls Voices, we are raising disruptive girl leaders who will demand their seats at the table.
Technology is an important tool for raising leaders. We can go a long way to improve lives and productivity by helping women and girls use their phones to schedule and attend meetings and events, pay bills, shop online, learn new skills and advance their education, and even pursue online advocacy and campaigns. It will also save them stress from long queues at the banks and utility agencies to pay bills, leaving their families to advance their education, or traveling long distances to buy things they can simply order online. Technology makes our lives and work simpler.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionized life and work, and Africa was not left out in the global revolution. Although we had no physical contact with the girls in our Girls Voices Initiative organization, we were able to gather in a WhatsApp group and challenge them to develop small groups and hack solutions to the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on girls.
The online hackathon was productive, with the girls exploring design thinking, research, and coding mobile apps that they designed to help girls report gender-based violence, school dropouts, and child early or forced marriage. This is a proud development for vulnerable girls who lack access to electronic devices and can only participate in such activities through their parents’ or siblings’ phones, tablets, or computers. Our organization won a global award as the gold winner in the category of the Next Generation Workplace by the Business Council of Peace.
The moments when we just connect to appreciate one another and share the good things we celebrate or learn from this experience helps us to truly thrive as a tribe of sisters. Yet, there are technological risks that persist, and women and girls must protect themselves.
Digital security continues to be a huge concern for anyone that engages with technology and the internet, and must be constantly adhered to. I did not suffer any threat during the pandemic, but I have experienced an email hack in the past. So, I practice some digital security steps from time to time to change my passwords periodically, then, I always sign out of online spaces that I sign into, so I am not exposed. Also, I never use the option of ‘remember me’ when I sign into online spaces, so I don’t expose myself to potential threats online. And I delete emails or social media invites that look sketchy without opening them. The two-step authentication also helps to protect me online including on WhatsApp. These are just some of the digital security practices I maintain to keep me safe online.
Technology is the future of the world. While I think the world always knew this, it took a global pandemic to remind us of the urgency of technology education and internet access for everyone. Several measures are being taken by individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, governments, and other entities to close the technology and internet gap in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we all need sustainable strategies to help us navigate the future that is highly dependent on these tools to work. The world needs technology and the internet, and we can all collaborate to make it happen!
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