According to a report by Afrobarometer, 96 percent of Zimbabweans have cellphones and access to some form of simple technology such as tablets and laptops. However, women and girls in the country remain unconnected compared to men and boys.
Here in the United States, there is a concerted effort towards empowering women and girls technologically. It should be that way around the world.
The fact that we have cellphones, tablets, and laptops are things we take for granted. We have access to anything we need at our fingertips. You can run a business from your iPhone!
A 2014 survey indicated that just under 85 percent of young women aged 15-49 years used mobile or non-mobile phones during the previous 12 months, compared to 86 percent of young men aged 15-24 and 90 percent of adult men aged 15-54.
It’s not only an equality issue but a social issue. This has grown into a challenge – countries such as Niger and Democratic Republic of Congo have a mobile gender gap of more than 30 percent.
With the multiple uses of smart phones, it means that women and girls are at a disadvantage. There is a gender divide, caused by a lack of connectivity, and it is a violation of women’s rights and prevents them from making full contributions in society.
Cellphones are important tools for advancing gender equality; empowering women and girls in African countries. Having access to technology can also be essential for women entrepreneurs in starting and operating businesses.
For example, women in rural areas can use cellphones to market their farm produce, their crafts and their livestock – locally and regionally.
Ownership of cellphones and other technology can also enable women and girls, especially in rural Zimbabwe, to send and receive money through mobile platforms like Eco-cash, Tele-cash and One Wallet.
Ownership of simple technology is essential to women’s empowerment in southern African countries and other parts of the continent; therefore decision makers in these regions should ensure women and girls, at all social levels and in all countries, can access and use such simple technological tools.