By Justina Auta
Oxfam Nigeria and Women in Information Technology and Communication (ICT), have advocated for more women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related fields to advance gender equity.
They made the call during an event, tagged “SHESHINES’’, to create more awareness on gender and creativity in Abuja.
The President, Women in ICT, Ms Kemisola Bolarinwa, stressed the need to encourage the society dismantle stereotypes and long-held beliefs on perceived appropriate careers meant for women and men.
According to her, women are often more productive in every area, hence the need to increase their presence in technology, which will increase the turnout of inventions, innovative solutions and breakthrough in sciences.
Bolarinwa cited recent breakthrough in the early detection of cancer through the early cancer detection smart brassiere by her Women in ICT team as a perfect example of how creative women in the innovation space could be.
“Right now, the invention of the smart bra detects cancer.
“This cancer has been a disease that has been there for a very long time but even though we have a lot of men in the sciences, they couldn’t think through to solve women’s problem through technological invention.
“These are part of reasons why we need more women in STEM space generally,” she said.
She explained that the smartbra safely detects and monitors potential cancerous cells at an early form, which will reduce death rate by 80 per cent by 2030.
Prof. Olabisi Aina, Researcher and Lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, said the National Gender Policy aims to promote gender equality, women empowerment and human rights.
Aina, who led the 2006 Gender Policy for Nigeria, added that it would also provide platforms for more sectors of the economy such as the sciences, to key into the drive for gender mainstreaming.
“The National Gender Policy is an umbrella policy to which we expect that every sector, whether it is labour, environment, health and others, to key into and look at gender issues in their sectors and then draw policy guidelines in order to mainstream gender into what they do.
“Women are now competing with men in the workplace and do a variety of jobs from ICT to high profile corporate work.
“But in all of this, the environment of work is said for a long time to be very masculinised because men are in majority.
“Now that women are entering the labour sector, we recognise the need to make that workplace comfortable for men and women to work,’’ she said.
Also, Ms Esohe Ahior, a legal Practitioner and Head of Department, Poise Graduate Finishing Academy, highlighted the need to upscale youth in technology and innovation to advance their livelihood and enable them contribute to the economy.
Ahior revealed that through the support of OXFAM, they worked with Project Alliance Project to train girls in sectors like graphic design, reproductive health, among others to improve more participation of women in STEM fields as part of the International Women’s month.
According to her, over 190 marginalised girls who have been abused and who have become early mothers, and girls the economy has set aside as not being able to do things, have benefitted from the training.
“This training will help upscale girls in the technological field. Because in my organisation, women are doing more things in tech than men. Women are the lead trainers in tech, graphic designers, photographers.
“It is an eye opener and shows that women are just as hungry to be in tech space like the men, and some are even surpassing the men,’’ she said.
She added that women in STEM field have shown the strength, commitment and tenacity to even supercede societal expectations and the men in technology innovation.
NAN reports that other highlights were poetry recitations, music performances and presentations by various outstanding women and female groups. (NAN)