Mrs Mary Uduma, the Chairperson, Internet Governance Forum (IGF) says active participation of women in the internet process is key to the development of any nation.
Uduma made this known on Tuesday in Abuja at the first Women Internet Governance Forum in Nigeria organised by the Centre for Information and Technology Development (CITAD).
The programme is supported by Association for Progressive Communication (APC).
She said that inclusiveness of women and acquisition of the knowledge of the Internet was key to their development.
“And these are the things the forum wants the women to be part of in the internet governance process.’’
She said that to bridge the gap, the forum drew up women focus programmes to enable them express themselves, participate fully and voice up their opinions.
“The essence of this meeting is for capacity building and for bringing information to the women and showing them the areas they have right and authority to speak out.
“And for them to participate in the development process, the internet is the platform as this is the enabler for everybody to be inclusive.
“This programme is the first step of involving women in internet governance.
“We have brought women together, spoken to them, stimulated them and educated them to know they have a platform to voice out their minds,’’ she said.
Prof. Amina Kaidal, a board member of CITAD said that the focus for the programme was to bring women together to identify problems hindering them from the internet process.
Kaidal, who is also a lecturer at University of Maiduguri said that the forum would strategise on how to improve internet accessibility for women.
Maryam Haruna Programme Officer, Gender and Internet CITAD said the over the years the organisation had been struggling for gender inclusion in Nigeria, especially in the northern part.
Haruna said that CITAD discovered that women participation in IGF was very low and this was what prompted the organisation to organise the forum to bring up issues concerning gender challenges in internet and online.
“The forum aimed at bridging gender gaps in accessing information and Internet policies, especially as it affects Nigerian women.
“So that is why we brought women from government, Civil Society Organisations (CSO), Academia, private sector to discuss the challenges and proffer solutions,’’ she said.
Ms Ene Ede, the Gender and Social Inclusion Adviser, Search for Common Ground, an NGO, a participant said that access to internet was like “having the world on your palm’’.
“If the women have the world on their palms, it would be a better place as internet is virtually everything and huge platform of engagement.
“If women are left out of this engagement, the world will not be good for development to take place and for everybody to participate equally, women need to be in the cyberspace.
Another participant, Miss Hassana Ibrahim of Women Will, an initiative of Google for Women said that the programme was apt as CITAD was trying to involve more women in decision-making of how the internet should be used.
“You notice that decision-making is about male and women are excluded so, bringing more women to participate in Internet is a very good idea,’’ she said. (NAN)