Celebration of the 2023 International Women’s Day

The University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) in collaboration with the Ladies in Mining and Allied Professions Ghana (LiMAP-Gh) and AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Limited (AAIL) on Wednesday, 8th March 2023 observed the International Women’s Day under the theme; ‘DIGITALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’.

The programme which was hosted by AngloGold Iduapriem drew women from various institutions in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality with the aim of educating them about the relevance of technology to women’s empowerment as well as explore ways to protect the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and approaches to combat online gender-based violence.

The Chairperson for the event and Managing Director of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Limited (AAIL) Mr Samuel Boakye Pobee, was represented by Ing Isaac Boakye Aduenin, Senior Manager, Engineering at AAIL. In his address, Ing Aduenin said that international Women’s Day is globally observed to celebrate the achievements of women and encourage actions towards creating a more inclusive world for women and that the contribution of women in technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential to promote innovation, social development, and economic growth.  He mentioned that it is unfortunate however, that women who make up half of the global population have historically been underrepresented in the technology and science sectors and are also often subjected to preconceived perceptions of what they can and cannot do amid low participation in educational, technological, economic, and political leadership opportunities.

Highlighting the theme, Ing Aduenin mentioned that in the United Nations Women’s Gender Snapshot 2022 Report women’s exclusion from the digital world had shaved $1 trillion from the gross domestic product of low- and middle-income countries in the last decade and that this loss is likely to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 if no action is taken. Hence, the United Nations’ International Women’s Day 2023 was aimed at recognising women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education, as well as the impact of digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities.

Referring to some significant contributions of AAIL to technology towards socio-economic development, Ing Aduenin indicated that AAIL has made conscious efforts to create a workplace that values diversity and respects human dignity. He added that AAIL remains committed to ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all in line with the Sustainable Development Goals on Quality Education (SDG 4) and indicated that in 2022 the AAIL reserved 50% of its scholarship awards for females pursuing STEM related programmes at the tertiary level.

Additionally, AAIL has been collaborating with UMaT through LiMAP to mentor and train young females in the University through the “Start Right, End Well” and “Exit in Readiness” mentorship programmes to prepare them adequately for the world of work and life at large. He also mentioned that AAIL through its Corporate Social Responsibility has demonstrated continuous support for improved educational standards through the provision of infrastructure, ICT, and other teaching and learning materials to improve the quality of teaching and learning in their host communities.

The Guest Speaker for the occassion, Professor Anthony Simons, Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Mines and Technology in his speech said that this year’s International Women’s Day draws the attention of the world to leverage the advancments made in innovations and technology to champion the course of women. He said that digital skills that is the ability to find, evaluate, use, share and create content using digital devices such as computers and smartphones, have become more valuable therefore, it has become imperative for society to acquire digital skills in order to exploit the full benefits it offers.

According to Professor Simons, the digital revolution however, has neglected women and girls in many countries. According to Professor Simons, even though the female population is more than the male’s In Ghana, men are 52% more likely than women to possess digital skills. He added that women in rural areas experience greater technological disenfranchisement than others in urban areas restricting their access to information, digital services, and opportunities.

Outlining the importance of technology to women, Prof Simons said that enrolling females in STEM-related programmes can help create more job opportunities for women in science and technology fields where they are underrepresented, Also, technology has created new opportunities for women entrepreneurs. E-commerce platforms, crowdfunding, and other digital tools have made it easier for women to start their own businesses as well as improve women’s health by providing access to telemedicine, remote monitoring and other digital health services such as the use of drones to deliver blood and medicaments for females in rural and remote areas with limited access to healthcare.

Professor Simons added that the University has made significant contributions in equipping women with technological knowledge through the introduction of courses such as Introduction to Computing, Computer Applications, Programming, Online Learning and Presentations. He also mentioned that the University has a Gender Mainstreaming Policy which seeks to achieve 50% of the student population as females. Additionally, the University through its yearly Innovation and Career Fair encourages all participating teams to include at least one female in their team and other associations on campus such as Women in Engineering (WINE) and Ladies in Mining and Allied Professions in Ghana (LiMAP-Gh) also offer training for students in related areas.

Acknowledging some women who have contributed towards the advancement of technology, Prof Simons mentioned Veronica Bekoe, who developed the popular ‘Veronica Bucket’ which facilitated the washing of hands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Simons said that to grow more women innovators, conscious efforts should be made to close all gaps in digital access and skills by encouraging women and girls to express interest and determination to acquire digital skills. He proposed that decision makers in educational institutions, the Gender and Social Protection Ministry, Religious Bodies, Social Clubs etc should organise training and workshops for women to effectively use their mobile phones, as well as other digital platforms, for maximum goods and service delivery, and ensuring inclusivity, equality and equity in opportunities at work and home. Prof Simons also mentioned the need to expand Femtech in order to advance issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights to family planning, taboos, abortion and sexual harassment which go a long way to affect women and girls.

The 2023 International Women’s Day was well attended by queen mothers in the Apinto Traditional Area, representatives from the Ghana Education Service (GES), the Ghana National Association of Teachers Ladies Association (GNAT-LAS), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Police Ladies Association, Prison Ladies Association, students from the basic schools, second cycle and tertiary institutions, staff of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Limited and the University of Mines and Technology, as well as other women’s organisations within the municipality.

 

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