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Tech4She project holds symposium on digital rights, cyber-bullying, others

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By Fatou Saho

The Tech4She Project in collaboration with Connekt, Polaris Association and Gambia Tech Project, commemorated International Women’s Day with an interactive symposium to discuss critical issues on digital rights, cyber-bullying and online harassment in The Gambia, focusing on the experiences and perspectives of women and girls.

The symposium held at the Alliance Francaise Friday, was organized under the theme; “Empowering Women in the Digital age; Addressing Cyber-bullying and Online harassment. The event was graced by stakeholders from diverse sectors including civil society, tech experts, students and government representatives.

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It also welcomed panel discussions by prominent speakers on pressing issues around the theme and the urgent need for actions to close the gender gap in technological access and ensure gender-responsive technology that thrives on safety, dignity and empowerment of women and girls.

In his welcoming remarks, Tech4She project manager Kabir Jallow, said: “This event signifies more than just a gathering. It is a commitment to creating an inclusive digital future. We aspire to speak about meaningful conversations that transcend today and echo into the future. Let us champion change, forge connections and lay a foundation for a more empowered and secured digital world.”

Mr Jallow said the project’s shared mission is to enhance digital awareness for women and girls, through comprehensive training programs, engaging in webinar series, and expert discussions geared towards promoting effective involvement of women in the technology sector.

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A 2021 survey conducted by the Afro barometer shows high disparities between men and women when it comes to digital access influenced by factors ranging from socio-economic status to educational attainments.

Speaking on the pros and cons about the use of internet’ and other digital tools, Mariama Jobe, a writer and a technology advocate, averred that the internet does only calls for digital citizenship from all its users.

Ms Jobe charged that; “In the Gambian society where tradition, gender norms, culture and attitudes still prevails, women and girls often face high risks and vulnerabilities in online spaces from harmful stereo types perpetuated through social media, to targeted harassment and threats. Today as we come together to discuss these pressing issues , let us not forget the lead experiences of Gambian women and girls to navigate the complexities of the online world everyday. We must invest in education and awareness raising initiatives to empower women and girls with the knowledge and skills to navigate the digital world safely and confidentially.”

She emphasized the need for expansion of policies, programs, and actions for greater inclusion and participation of women to reduce the digital inequality between men and women.

She further stated the need for women victims of cyber crime to be accorded justice, closure and recognition.

Boubacar Coly, Gambia Tech Project coordinator, explained that one of the main components Gambia Tech, Polaris Association and the Tech4She projects are working on is to make sure women and girls are digitally aware and help them use digital tools for their socio-economic empowerment.

Mr Coly added that the projects have conducted training for girls from various backgrounds on tech awareness, identifying and understanding available tools to protect themselves and other women.

He said in addressing the issues women and girls face online, it has to start with a good understanding about what harassment and bullying meant.

The daylong symposium also witnessed the award of certificates to some erudite women who underwent digital training and were recognized for their commitment in the tech sector.

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