Women are still disadvantaged in many areas and are numerically behind their male counterparts in some sectors. This is particularly true in the STEM sector, where women are still underrepresented. To change this, the Government of Rwanda and DigiCenter are jointly driving initiatives with a strong focus on gender equality.
Gender Mainstreaming in a Nutshell
Gender mainstreaming is an approach to policy-making that considers both women’s and men’s interests and concerns. The concept of gender mainstreaming was first introduced at the 1985 Nairobi World Conference on Women into most development programs.
Regarding the European Institute of Gender Equality, gender mainstreaming ensures that policy-making and legislative work is of higher quality and has a greater relevance for society, because it makes policies respond more effectively to the needs of all citizens – women and men, girls, and boys.
Rwanda’s Experience into Gender Mainstreaming
The Government of Rwanda has also promoted gender equality in Rwanda using the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion. In one significant change, women have been given the same right as men to inherit land and in other factors such as government posts, the military, and education.
Rwanda’s parliament has the highest percentage of women in a single house parliament worldwide. The government has reserved 24 out of the 80 seats in the Chamber of Deputies for women.
Our Contribution as the Digital Transformation Center
Our planning processes, implementation frameworks and operation guidelines require that we always incorporate aspects of gender mainstreaming into our programs and projects. Moreover, when we design solutions we make sure to use a gender-inclusive approach. Over the last 2-3 years of our operations, we have done our best to further the agenda because gender mainstreaming has cross cutting issues when it comes to digitization and digital transformation as whole.
At the Digicenter we carried out a lot of interventions on the role of external and internal gender mainstreaming especially for capacity- and solution development.
In 2019-2020, we hosted and facilitated various trainings in technical areas of emerging technologies. We ensured that all capacity development participation rates consider gender balance in aspects of recruitment of trainers, sign ups of trainees and the way the sessions are organized. For example, the code+design boot camp with some women only sessions, the requirement for at least 30% female engineers in ICT as attendees for both the Machine Learning and IoT trainings.
We also share our experiences and methods on portfolio level with other GIZ programs to benchmark and encourage a multiplier effect for both GIZ, beneficiaries and implementing partners.
The Digicenter also hosted, facilitated and funded the “Innovate4women” challenge which was conceptualized by our implementing partner Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA). During the course of the challenge, 3 solutions tailored for women in Rwanda were born. One solution means to serve women with visual disability, another solutions aims to improve the knowledge of women care givers on the levels of nutrition for infants, and the third solution basis on financial inclusion of camp based women refugees.
Furthermore, the DigiCenter supported the “Wecode” program for women coders and testers for a period of 10 months as a learning and conducive environment. Additionally, the Digicenter facilitated and sponsored the training and prep boot camp of the girls in ICT contestants of the 2019 miss Geek Africa competition usually held at the Transform Africa Summit.
Gender Mainstreaming going forward
While an increasing number of countries have adopted laws and policies, relating to gender equality and gender mainstreaming, they are rarely accompanied by adequate budget allocations. Requisite institutional, staffing, infrastructural improvements and other supports that may be needed at the national and sub-national levels are missing to implement them. In addition, skills and knowledge to assess the gap between women and men in various sectors, including in evidence-based programming, is available but often circulated or acted upon, particularly in resource-scarce settings.
This is also compounded where high staff turnover poses additional challenges in retaining a skilled and experienced cadre of individuals. Particularly, long-term and sustained resource investments are critical in order for governments to deliver on their commitments to having gender balance and equal opportunities for both women and men alike. This can include the strengthening of expertise and building ‘critical masses’ of expertise in key areas and sectors. At the same time, improvements to remove service delivery bottlenecks are critical across sectors.
The DigiCenter aims to play its part in the journey ahead. We trust our interventions and those of our partners and beneficiaries can have a long-term effect towards achieving equality.