Girl Power on display at DigitALL Arena Exposition

by Curlan Campbell

  • International Women’s Day was Wednesday, 8 March
  • Opening ceremony chaired by Dr Dessima Williams, Senate President
  • Deputy Speaker believes men have role towards inclusion in ICT space

The Grenada Trade Centre Annex was transformed on International Women’s Day Wednesday, 8 March 2023, with a slate of innovative and interactive experiences and learning opportunities surrounding digital technologies.

As part of the opening ceremony for the DigitALL Arena Exposition, female entrepreneurs, owners of small businesses and handicrafts enterprises showcased products and services in keeping with this year’s theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.”

The opening ceremony was chaired by Dr Dessima Williams, President of the Senate and representatives of The UK Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (UK CPA) attended, as well as Prime Dickon Mitchell and several of his government ministers, Members of the Opposition, representatives of the Division of Family and Gender Affairs within the Ministry of Social Development, and children from various primary and secondary schools. The event was organised by the Division of Family and Gender Affairs to spotlight digital gender equality in Grenada and served as a call to action to ensure the inclusiveness of women and girls to bridge the digital divide.

According to the UN’s progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Gender Snapshot 2022, the lack of inclusion of women from the digital world comes with a massive cost of $1 trillion from the gross domestic product (GDP) of low- and middle-income countries in the last decade. It is also expected to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 if swift action is not taken.

Nickie Aiken of the UK CPA, believes these worrying statistics can be reversed but it will require women to be at the forefront of policymaking. “We are half the population of this globe and we give birth to the other half. Therefore, we need to ensure that we are involved in policymaking because we have to influence policy. We got to ensure that women’s and girls’ rights are there at the top in the United Kingdom and in Grenada.”

Globally, women make up 19.9% of science and engineering professionals. Deputy Speaker of the House of Parliament and President of Grenada Parliamentary Women Association Clarice Modeste-Curwen, believes that men have a role to play in this struggle towards inclusion in the ICT space. “Women have come a long way in terms of narrowing the gender gap in terms of achievement and I am proud to say that when I see some of the women who are heads of major businesses in our country, I want to salute them. When I see women in the public service who are heads of their ministries…we have come a long way. But unfortunately, we still have a long way to go and so I just want to say to all of us to pursue digitisation and information technology. Let us then use it to empower ourselves.”

“Many of the households in Grenada are led by single women who are heads of households and therefore you empower women, you then empower the household, you empower the nation and the world …The men have to be behind us in order for us to narrow that gap between achievements, especially in digitisation,” she continued.

Prime Minister Mitchell delivered brief remarks at Wednesday’s ceremony where he pledged Government support to achieve gender equality in the digital space. “As a male, I pledge to do my part to ensure that we continue to embrace gender equality, that we continue to fight against discrimination against women and girls that we continue to fight against the scourge of gender-based violence women and girls and that we continue to champion the rights of women and girls so that there is no doubt that they are equal partners with us as human beings.”

Minister for Social and Community Development, Housing and Gender Affairs Phillip Telesford admits that women and girls miss opportunities in tech and innovation which is due to what he describes as “inherent systematic challenges that are rooted in gender inequality.” He said there must be a shift this year to focus on the need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education. “Advancement in digital technology offers immense opportunities to address development and humanitarian challenges and to achieve 2030 Sustainable Development goals. Unfortunately, the digital revolution opportunity is not without its inherent systematic challenges that are rooted in gender inequality. there is a disparity in the context of digital skills and access to technologies with women being left behind as a result of this digital gender divide. the need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education is therefore crucial for a sustainable future,” he said.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is aligned with the priority theme for the upcoming 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-67), “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.