Online bullying a cause for depression among children, says Minister

Wednesday October 13 2021
Zanzibar pic

Zanzibar Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Mwanaidi Ali Khamis.

By Rosemary Mirondo

Dar es Salaam. Zanzibar Deputy Minister for Health, Community
Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Mwanaidi Ali Khamis has revealed that 32 percent of children who experienced online violence are now victims of depression.

Speaking at the climax to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child held in Dar es Salaam themed ‘Digital generation, my generation’, Khamis said digitisation should play a vital role that enables girls and young women to tap emerging opportunities instead of being used as an instrument of demoralising their dignity or discrimination.

“The government is encouraging the transformation to digitalisation that respects girls’ dignity and that gives them a chance to explore economic and social opportunities in line with such transformations.
The globe is passing through ICT transformations of which most of the consumers are youth.

She said most young girls have become victims of depression by
being subjected to discrimatory  acts that some of which are shared on social media where prohibited content has a room to go viral.

TCRA data indicate that as of December 2020 51.2million people in Tanzania owned mobile phones of which 28.5million use internet services. All these digital developments must align with the obligation of not violating girls’ and young women's rights and dignity,” said Khamis.

According to her, the government is encouraging full participation of girls and adolescents in digital work but calling upon close monitoring from parents, guardians and all responsible adults of the community.

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In her remarks the UN Women Representative to Tanzania Hodan Addou said that girls need equal opportunities not only to take part in the digital world, but also lead digital transformation in an
increasingly interconnected world.

According to her, available research shows that if 600 million more women are connected to the internet in three years, this would translate to a rise in global GDP of up to U$18 billion. 

Yet, throughout the world there is a gender digital divide, where girls have lower levels of access to, and use of digital technology than boys.

Globally, 2.2 billion people below the age of 25 do not have internet access at home, with girls more likely to be cut off.

This lack of access to information, she said, leads to more significant economic and social gaps.

“One of the things the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is that access to technology is not a luxury anymore, it is a necessity especially for girls.

Digital inclusion and literacy open new avenues for girls’ learning and earning, and technology is a crucial enabler of the
change girls are already leading around the world in areas such as gender equality, climate action and social justice,” said Addou.

She further noted that to ensure that women and girls can fully
participate in the digital economy, girls need to be digitally
empowered. Education is key, integrating ICT in the national
curriculum, as well as empowering girls to pursue STEM subjects.
Mentorship programmes and the promotion of positive role models are also essential for girls to become the digital leaders of tomorrow.