Dar es Salaam. Women entrepreneurs have started aligning themselves with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) platform as a sure means of accessing online information for developing their business that include access to finance, markets as well as communication with buyers over a distance.
According to an innovation for gender equality report, the UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo achieving the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and notably the goal in gender equality and women’s empowerment requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions.
Based on current trajectories, existing efforts will not suffice to achieve a Planet 50-50 by 2030.
However innovations in policies, management, finance, science and technology that disrupt business as usual are increasingly recognized as a way to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs for all. From mobile banking ventures that facilitate women’s entrepreneurship to e-learning platforms that take classrooms to individuals, socials innovations have the potential to serve as powerful tools to break trends and increase awareness, access and the availability of opportunities. This is particularly true for women experiencing marginalization due to their age, ethnicity, education, income, disability, location or migratory status.
At the same time, it is increasingly clear that technology and innovation can be rejected; that they can create new, unforeseen problems of their own; and that they do not benefit all equality. Not only are women under represented across core innovation sectors, including science, technology , engineering and mathematics, but new technology brings risks of bias and possibilities for misuse, creating new human rights challenges for the 21st century.
She said recognizing the unprecedented opportunities as well as the challenges of rapid innovation and technological development for gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as the importance of innovation to benefit women and men equally.
“UN women has included innovation as one of the drivers of change in its strategic plan 2018-2021,” she said.
In another development, the Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce, Public Relations, Cresensia Mbunda said a majority of women lack knowledge on ICT and how to use it.
She said that the National Bureau of Statistics reveal that 70 percent of men have awareness on the importance of ICT while women are only 38 percent.
She noted that it was imperative to create more awareness to women in rural areas to enable them understand that they would be able to get markets, finance and improve skills through ICT.
Founder of Bela Vendor Tanzania, Lulu Ameir said she has a vendor machines that sells sanitary pads to school going girls that has gained popularity through her initiative to go digital.
She said that, she is currently supplying the product to Tambaza and Changombe schools in Dar es Salaam.
“Because my products are online, I have been getting orders from other schools and am now looking to expand to hotels and offices,” she said.
Meanwhile Cynthia Baro who is a consultant in the hospitality industry told BusinessWeek that through the use of online platform she was able to reach more people then envisioned because it’s easier to access, store and reach more people at the same time.
Explaining she said, she works in collaboration with hotels to train staff who a majority are unskilled for carrying out their jobs.
“I was able to blend both online and offline training, but it was much easier to reach more staff through online,” she said.
She noted that staff who were busy to attend offline training, were able to visit the online site to train and communicate for further information.
On her part, a lawyer and a tax consultant, Janet Eden said they have started an initiative that aims to help girls and women who cannot afford sanitary pads attain those that are reusable.
“Girls and women in remote areas have menstrual challenges and that is why we are looking for funding from the government through local government own fund to start a small industry where we will produce reusable pads at affordable prices,” she said.