In line with the theme of this year’s celebration of international women’s day “”Gender equality today for a sustainable tommorow”” Two thousand four hundred women have graduated from a three month tech skill acquisition program tagged ” DigiGirls’ a project by Cybersafe foundation and funded through the UK Aid’s Digital Access program.
Speaking at a ceremony marking this year’s international women’s day and the graduation of the trainees in Lagos, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing emphasized on the need for more women to occupy both leadership and political positions as this will inspire the young girls to have role models and aspire to be like them.
Laing said the UK government was determined to challenge discrimination and gender inequality, such as the digital gender divide in Nigeria and many places around the world and #breakthebias for everyone to benefit.
DigiGirls is aimed at closing the digital gender gap that is causing unemployment and underemployment of women and girls especially for the underserved and vulnerable in Nigeria communities by putting them through three months intensive digital skill acquisition and two months paid internship.
The program would also ensure safe and responsible use of internet , tackle gender-based violence through economic empowerment of women, support inclusive and sustainable economic recovery post pandemic.
Speaking at the graduation of the first cohort of 2400 women and girls who benefited from the Digi-Girls project the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing said women’s rights are human rights, enshrined in conventions that the UK government supports strongly.
She pointed out that COVID-19 has led to the reversal of hard-fought progress: women have been hardest hit economically; which resulted to a global surge in gender-based violence; and millions of girls estimated to be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation. Millions of adolescent girls may never return to school.
Women and girls are also disproportionately impacted by climate change, natural disasters and conflict because they exacerbate existing inequality and barriers in accessing services and support, yet women are critical front-line responders when crisis hits, and are crucial voices in decision making processes – if given the space to be heard.
Laing added that gender inequality is particularly entrenched for women and girls who face multiple discrimination because of their age, religion, disability, sexuality, race or other difference and this International Women’s Day would celebrate the UK’s work to champion gender equality and heightened ambition to make more progress than ever.
According to Laing , Uk”s government new International Development Strategy and new Women and Girls Strategy will set out strong commitments and step up efforts to amplify the UK’s voice and take proactive action to empower women and girls across Nigeria and around the world.
Laing added that the UK government was committed to programmes that address digital inequality in Nigeria – that currently holds 15% gender gap against women.
In a remark the founder of Cybersafe foundation Mrs Confidence Staveley who expressed appciation to the UK government said the training which was on three pillars of training, mentorship and internship was to make the girls employable.
According to her, the challenges during the training was basically access to infrastructure because outside the training hub most of the girls were limited to their phones.
Also highlighting the improvements of the programme she said that there was increased number of applications of over 12000 applicants which showed increased awareness and acceptability given the importance of the programme.
Mrs Staveley said the 2nd cohort of the programme would accept 4000 girsl due to increased number of applications and there would be gratification, disability inclusion and scaling for more community impact.
Some of the graduants who spoke on the impact of the training said it was another self discovery for them as they are already making money and training other women in their communities.
The graduation was part of the activities marking this year’s international women’s day.