South Africa’s Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of United Nations Women, put innovation and the women of Africa in the spotlight for International Women’s Day.
This year’s theme for the annual UN celebration, marked on Friday, is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.” In her statement, Mlambo-Ngcuka described the tangible ways in which both women and technology are changing the continent and its future, and pressed for women’s inclusion in tech enterprises.
“Remoteness need no longer be an exclusion issue when mobile money technology and digital payments can deliver social benefits to even the most remote households,” she said. “Lack of roads need not prevent life-saving medication from reaching patients, with smart inventions like 15-year old Nigerian Eno Ekanem’s drone to make drops to rural areas, controlled by SMS messaging.”
In Liberia, midwife Lorina Karway delivered babies using her mobile phone to light up the dark. “Now however, simple low-cost solar lamps made by women have brought a creative, sustainable solution to Lorina,” said Mlambo-Ngcuka. “ This important invention that jumpstarts access to modern renewable energy can be further developed to be even easier to handle and use.”
The large ‘Senergy’ solar-power project in Dakar benefited from women’s input during its development, leading to real improvements in education, health care and microfinance.
“Women and girls must have opportunities to contribute to making real change, and help shape the policies, services and infrastructure that impact their lives,” she said.
Image: UN Africa, Kinshasa