PRESENTATION AT THE UN CSW67 CONFERENCE
The Theme for the CSW67-UN Women: “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”
The NGO CSW Forum and the Coalition for Global Funding Transition (CGFT), a think tank composed of 6 members from Uganda that include; Local Sustainable Communities Organisation (LOSCO), Youth Advocacy and Development Network Uganda (YADNET), Foundation for Integrated Rural Development (FIRD), Nonviolent Peace force, Action for Behavioural Change (ABC), and Uganda Network of AIDS Organisations (UNASO), present at CSW67 UN Women TODAY!
“The Localization of Global Funding strategies to accelerate Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.
As we acknowledge that the gender digital divide has been narrowing across all regions, and women remain digitally marginalized in many of the world’s poorest countries, where online access could potentially have its most powerful effect.
The digital gender divide continues to be one of the major barriers to meaningful participation in a digital society,(Web Foundation 2021).The gaps in some parts of the world are shrinking yet for the case of Africa it is increasing(UN Women 2021). Women are 50% less likely than men to be online, and 30-50% less likely to use the Internet for economic and political empowerment while girls are also disadvantaged when it comes to digital adoption, have lower levels of access to and use of digital technology than boys, and often they are not benefiting from digital technology as boys are(UN Women 2021).
Similarly, around 393 million adult women (aged 18 and over) in low- and middle income countries do not own or use mobile phones because of discriminatory social-cultural norms, lack of affordability, access as well as lack of confidence and increasing cases of online harassment(unsolicited calls, SMS, cyber bullying) remain the major impediments to women’s access and adoption of digital technologies (USAID 2021). According to Uganda Communication Commission (2015) report on access and use of digital tools, only 61% of households in Uganda own and use radios, 15% televisions and 2.2% laptops attributed to lack of digital literacy, lack or relevance, high cost, privacy and security issues which affect more women and girls as compared to their male counter parts.
According to EQUALS Global Partnership (2019), the divide remains wide in the LDCs, where only 19 percent of women are using the Internet (12 percentage points lower than men), and in the landlocked developing countries (LLDCs). (27 percent of women versus 38 percent of men), Africa (24 percent versus 35 percent), and the Arab States (56 percent versus 68 percent). The gap exists irrespective of a country’s overall ICT access levels, economic performance, income levels, or geographic location, and widens as technologies become more sophisticated and expensive.
Growing gender inequalities exist in terms of access to connectivity, digital education, and skills, as well as access to actual technologies, meaning that individual women are increasingly at a disadvantage in terms of access to information, digital services, and employment in high-growth sectors such as IT, biotech, and engineering. The gap is also increasing, with the number of men joining the Internet in developing countries growing faster than that of women.
Technology and the internet can be a great enabler for girls but a lack of opportunities, skills and a fear of discrimination prevent many from using and creating digital tools and online content. And if the digital gender gap is not addressed, digital technologies may exacerbate gender inequalities rather than help to reduce them. This is because, without equal access to technology and the internet, girls and women are not able to equally participate in our ever more digital societies. This calls for the need to close the Gender Digital Gaps in Uganda through enhancing the adoption of Digital Technologies by Women and Girls in Uganda.
Coalition for Global Funding Transition (CGTF) proposes to break these barriers and close the Gender Digital Gaps first through building capacity and creating awareness to enhance the adoption of Digital Technologies by Women and Girls in Uganda. This will be achieved by raising awareness, empowering and encouraging women and girls in the informal sector to access and use digital technologies to improve the performance of their businesses. More still, we will use the findings of the baseline survey to provide practical ICTs skills training to women and girls mobilized from the informal sector to improve their basic knowledge and understanding of computers, mobile phones and mobile internet works.
Pandemics like COVID-19 and Ebola have taught us a lesson, many international staff and organizations could not travel to affected areas, proving the essential nature of local frontline organizations and opening space for them to demonstrate their leadership. This caused the largest disruption to education in history, affecting some 1.6 billion learners at their peak, and highlighting both challenges and opportunities. Most education systems were unprepared, leaving-third of learners without access to any remote learning and highlighting the urgency of equipping teachers with the requisite digital and pedagogical skills.
UCC /UCUSAF strategy and national development agenda (NDPIII) aims aimed at closing the Gender Digital Gaps in Uganda through building capacity and creating awareness to enhance the adoption of Digital Technologies by Women and Girls in Uganda. Similarly, CGFT through its Member Organisations will also contribute to the major purpose as ICTs act as an enabler to promote Digital skills in Education and address the Gender Gap in Education Systems promoting SDG4.
Civil society is the pillar of government — of where the government and international NGOs cannot go, what they cannot do, where they’re going wrong, or what’s outside their scope of work, working with development partners is necessary for Global Funders to better understand CSOs’ needs, consider, and support them in their response to Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
We therefore believe, that Localization of Global funding can help reduce costs related to implementation, staffing, transaction, and management through all stages of response, and promote diversity, innovative and contextual approaches.
Increasing funding to Country Based Pooled Funds (CBPFs) is a common way for donors to meet their localization commitments. Operationally, these funding mechanisms provide some clear advantages, as they were initially established to implement large numbers of small grants within a local context.
Flexibility and Trust in funding by both Donors and beneficiary organisations need to be intentionally emphasised and built to support education because Digital infrastructure is not very cheap and yet very necessary. This also calls for comprehensive partnerships with government agencies, which can be relationally built.
Donors also need to relax on the tough and bureaucratic approval processes that are a serious challenge and base it on Mutual Respect where Donors and Beneficiary Organisations supporting Education (SDG4), Health (SDG3) are working as partners.
On the same note, Donors need to start Supporting System Growth of Organisation NOT Only Projects in order to become sustainable thus creating an enabling environment among the CSOs.
Donors need to mind the language used in the donor spaces knowing that all parties contribute to the cause. Grass root Organisations have a voice and are not to be treated like beggars yet every objective should be built on the shared concept and mutual understanding to realise the targeted impact.
A participatory technique that prioritizes hearing from a broad range of community level local actors, with an emphasis on including voices that are typically not heard is very essential. This provides an important opportunity to listen to actors in the local system to understand their priorities and development challenges, and to gain a deeper understanding of the local context. This involves listening to local actors without an agenda, with an open mind, and without judgment; listening to learn; respecting all voices; and valuing relationships. CGFT aims to provide that!!!
CGFT Strives to bring development actors and partners together to collectively produce a mutually valued outcome, using a participatory process that assumes some degree of shared power and decision‐making. A time‐limited process focuses on generating a specific outcome. It’s Possible and its achievable