October 11 marks the International Day of the Girl Child. Declared by the United Nations General Assembly, this day is set apart to highlight progress in advancing women and girls' rights and address the challenges they face worldwide.
The ongoing global health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, has reversed progress on economic and social inequalities, especially for girls and women. Violence against women heightened during the lockdown periods as women and girls spent more time at home. The burden of unpaid care and domestic work doubled as more women in the workforce were subjected to remote work. Women empowerment organisations were limited in their operations due to the pandemic. Hence harmful practices such as early marriage, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation were difficult to stop. Social protection initiatives that were usually equipped to provide for the vulnerable in society (usually women and girls) lacked the needed resources due to the financial constraints presented by the pandemic.
The theme of this year's observance is "Digital generation. Our generation." The pandemic has widened the digital gap, the pay gap, and generally, the gender gap. As of 2020, 2.2 billion people below the age of 25 do not have access to the internet at home. In most cases, more girls are likely to be cut off. As such, the gender digital gap will keep widening. Girls are likely to draw away from tech-related skills and jobs, increasing inequalities beyond connectivity.
Technology is a proven tool in bridging social, economic, and digital gaps. At Bewsys, we have worked on numerous projects to empower women and girls and provide technical support to intensify the social initiatives that protect marginalised groups.
Here are a few:
- We designed, developed, and implemented a management information system to support national shock responsive social protection programs and services in DR Congo. DR Congo. In collaboration with UNICEF, we built a system for safety nets programs in the country. The system helped issue payments to beneficiaries and increased political will in mobilising resources and improving donor coordination.
- In collaboration with UNICEF, we designed and implemented the monitoring and evaluation application for Ghana's Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) project. The application scaled up operations in the program and ensured beneficiaries were not denied their social protection rights.
Building on existing work in progressing SDG 5, we should support women empowerment initiatives in ensuring that women and girls have their voices heard. The power of social dialogue can drive the attainment of decent work for women, gather focus to eliminate trafficking and exploitation of women and girls, and help implement the UN Women's Action Plan for Transformative Financing for Gender Equality.