ICT – April 24 2024

ICT4D fueling the change: How Women and Girls are Shaping the Future with ICT

Celebrating the strides and tackling challenges in achieving digital equity on International Day of Women and Girls in ICT.

Studies reveal that women and children, especially those without adequate parental care, often face significant barriers in accessing digital tools and the Internet. This digital divide limits their access to healthcare, education, and employment. SOS Children's Villages actively combats this issue globally by providing community computer hubs and digital skills training among other locally relevant initiatives.

However, access to technology alone does not close the gender digital gap. Persistent societal norms and gender stereotypes continue to limit women and girls from entering digital or STEM-related careers. To address this, SOS Children's Villages introduced the Gender Mainstreaming in ICT4D toolkit last year, designed to use ICT as a catalyst for community-wide change and to promote gender equality.

Our initiatives in Benin and Zimbabwe have shown impressive results. For instance, the programmes led by SOS Children’s Villages Benin and SOS Children’s Villages Zimbabwe have achieved a 92% graduation rate among girls in advanced graphic skills and digital freelancing training provided by Learnio Academy. Remarkably, in Zimbabwe, 28% of the trainees secured employment even before graduating, while 70% of those from Benin have committed to further enhancing their digital skills to pursue STEM careers.



Challenges such as transportation costs, harmful social norms, and the need for female facilitators remain. "Ongoing communication with family members is vital for support," says Roselyn Chifamba, ICT Manager SOS Children’s Villages Zimbabwe, emphasizing a comprehensive approach that includes tackling societal roles, ensuring equitable ICT access, and providing basic literacy skills on demand.


Success Stories

During the pilot phases, we witnessed a significant shift in the participation and performance of women and girls. In Zimbabwe, for example, Ivy, a participant in the training and mentoring programme, used her newfound skills in graphic design to freelance successfully. This programme, in collaboration with Learnio Academy, showcases the potential for further growth and expansion. Ivy graduated with top honours and has become a community role model, advocating for gender equality, and participating actively in discussions about breaking gender-based stereotypes.

In response to the lower registration and higher dropout rates among female participants in recent years, SOS Children's Villages launched a women-only cohort for the Learnio Academy programe in Benin financed by DPD DHL. This initiative provided high-quality training and mentorship in graphic design and digital freelancing to 39 young women. Furthermore, motivated by entrepreneurial spirit, a group of these trainees is set to launch "Educate to Innovate," an initiative to teach digital skills to rural youth. Another group is developing an online platform for web designers and developers in Africa to collaborate and exchange ideas.


Key insights

Several key insights were derived from the data obtained during the pilot. Notably, collaboration with community-based organizations increased reach and relevance. The necessity of cross-functional teams for successful gender mainstreaming was also highlighted. Moreover, the data showed that when efforts are made to consider and respond to the different needs of all genders, the performance of women and girls improves.


Next steps

The next steps involve integrating these inputs into existing tools and promoting the lessons learned via federation-wide webinars and trainings within the Digital Villages program.

In conclusion, the gender mainstreaming initiative has shown promising results in addressing the gender digital gap and promoting gender equality. By adopting and implementing these guidelines, SOS Children's Villages can ensure that our ICT4D projects are not only technologically advanced, but also socially progressive.

If you wish to learn more about this initiative or have any questions regarding our findings or would like to support these or other initiatives, please contact Alicia Rodriguez, Youth Participation & ICT4D Coordinator at alicia.rodriguez@sos-kd.org.


Authors: Ute Hennig, Alicia Rodriguez