As Cameroon observed International Girls in ICT Day on April 29, the country’s government has said measures to enhance online protection for girls and women will be stepped up.
This is in line with the theme of this year’s Girls in ICT Day,
“Access and Security”.
Post and Telecommunications Minister, Minette Libom Li Likeng launched commemorative activities in Yaoundé, organized in partnership with African Women in Tech Start-Ups Association (AFRICANWITS). The organization is headed by Horore Bell Bebga.
Minister Minette Libom Li Likeng says creating an environment that encourages young girls to make ICT a career choice is a big priorityfor the government at a time when cyber violence is rife in Cameroon.
A recent report by the United Nations Broadband Commission reveals that nearly three quarters of women online have experienced cyber-violence.
In recent times, online sexual misconduct has become a serious problem. Sex tapes of some young Cameroonian girls have gone viral on social media. This is a growing phenomenon that government is bent on stopping.
Aside the battle against cyber violence is the promotion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) use, especially among women and young girls.
A study conducted on gender digital divide by the NGO “Women and ICTs” in six African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal), reveals that women are one third less likely to benefit from the advantages and opportunities of the information society compared to men.
More women will only enjoy the blessings of the digital world of the digital space becomes safe. This will bridge the existing gender digital divide and give women room to assert themselves and defend their rights online .
Government efforts to stop Cyber violence on Women
Post and Telecommunications Minister, Minette Libom Likeng and Marie Therese Abena Ondoa of Women’s Empowerment and the family have repeatedly condemned sexual harassment and all other forms of cyber violence directed to women and girls.
But that is not enough. Women and girls need to arm themselves with the necessary resources and tools to ensure they are protected online.
On ICT Day 2020, Cameroon took part in the “Free To Be Online” campaign, launched by PLAN INTERNATIONAL offices in the world, to denounce online harassment and abuse of girls.
Other online safety protection measures for girls include ;
-encouraging girls and young women to pursue studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
-Inspiring girls and young women to get a career in ICT
-Increasing the success and inspirational role models of girls and women in ICT.
-providing Institutional support for female start-ups;
– awarding special prizes to the winners of international innovation competitions;
– providing assistance and support to women in tech associations
Authorities are hopeful that these measures will eventually make the online space safer for young girls and women.
Kathy Neba Sina