Empower women and girls through digital access

by WONDER Foundation
Empower women and girls through digital access
Empower women and girls through digital access
Empower women and girls through digital access
Empower women and girls through digital access
Empower women and girls through digital access
Empower women and girls through digital access
Empower women and girls through digital access
Empower women and girls through digital access
Empower women and girls through digital access
Empower women and girls through digital access

In April, we launched growskills.africa, an online resource designed with and for African youth workers so they can go forward and empower the women and girls in their communities. The website has been specifically designed in collaboration with African youth workers to be mobile-first, low-data and accessible to all.

In the UK and other Western countries, putting information online typically means creating well-designed PDF documents. Through speaking with our partners on the ground, we realised that this wouldn’t be widely accessible to many African women, who often only access the internet via their smartphone. It’s difficult and time-consuming to read a large PDF on a small phone screen. 

We spent time with our partner organisations and youth workers in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria in order to find solutions to this problem, and make our work as accessible as possible.

We have learned through our work that data costs are one of the main barriers that women face when using the internet as a resource for learning. 

In the end we chose a traditional website, optimised for use primarily on smart phones. Unlike a PDF, where you can have long chapters, this resource is designed to be read on a phone, and the content was written with this in mind. Each section is short and self-contained, designed to make sense on a mobile. 

We have used very few images to reduce data consumption, and the majority of these are vectored images, which use little data to load.

This website is a resource we are proud of and seek to continue to improve, so that it meets the emerging needs of those transforming the lives of young women and girls in their communities. 

Thank you for supporting WONDER and making projects like this possible. 

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Our report on the gender digital divide highlights stories from our partners in Nigeria and the UK, along with insights from our projects in the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Kazakhstan and Kenya.

Thanks to your support over the past year, we have been able to work productively with our partners to ensure women and girls could continue learning online throughout COVID-19. Access to digital technology can no longer seen as a luxury, but a necessity for all.

Our report draws on this important work to shed light on the challenges facing women and girls’ education as a result of the gender digital divide and the ongoing pandemic. 

On the one hand, the digital divide can exacerbate existing social inequalities, becoming an extra barrier for women and girls’ empowerment. However, greater access and use of digital technology can help correct existing gender inequalities in education, employment, and other areas. 

We believe that with the appropriate action on the part of funders, policy-makers and government leaders, women and girls can move from disconnection to connection. Our partners show that the students continue to have a willingness to learn, and that teachers and staff are working flexibly and creatively to provide the best solutions for their students.

We hope that this report will inspire you to think about the effects of digital exclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, and most importantly, what can be done to build more resilience through quality education for the future. 

With gratitude,

Nicole


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Ifeoma, head of academics at Wavecrest
Ifeoma, head of academics at Wavecrest

Ifeoma is the head of academics at Wavecrest College of Hospitality in Lagos, Nigeria. She has worked at Wavecrest for 18 years, but the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented difficulties for both students and teachers who lacked digital access. 

"My biggest challenge in teaching online has been teaching students who do not have the resources, for example students who didn’t have phones that support apps for learning, or have no phone, talk less of a laptop, nor data to sign into class, or lack internet connectivity," she said.

"The other challenge was having to spend a lot more on data. Being the person in charge of academics, it was awful to see that most teachers had to use their phones as they didn’t have laptops to teach with. A good number also had challenges similar to the students: no power, high cost of data and poor network."

The school decided to use WhatsApp to teach online throughout the pandemic.

"It sounds ridiculous but that was the best option considering that most students have access to WhatsApp, and then send teaching notes and references by email." Ifeoma said.

While Wavecrest was able to find solutions to teaching during the pandemic, obstacles such as no power, poor network connection, the high cost of data and some women not having access to phones stood in their way.

Your donation helped bridge the gap. With your support, Wavecrest was able to ensure that teachers were able to reach their students, and that students had the resources and the skills to continue learning from home.

Thank you for supporting the education of young women around the world.

With gratitude, 

Nicole

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“I will make my supporters proud by doing my possible best in my education.”

Adedayo is studying at Wavecrest College of Hospitality, in Nigeria, and dreams of having her own restaurant one day. The skills she is learning, she explained, “will help my dreams become a reality”.

From an early age, Adedayo knew she wanted to continue her education for as long as she could. “I started working as a house help after my secondary school to raise some money to move forward to with education all by myself as my parents did not have the financial capacity to help me move on with my education”, she told WONDER.

Continuing her education during the pandemic has been a struggle for Adedayo. She finds learning online difficult: “I am not able to follow the online classes regularly because sometimes I may not have money to buy data on my phone, sometimes there is no electricity to power and charge my phone”.

She added that “not going to school physically has made me want to give up my education”. But, thanks to the support of her mentor she is continuing her studies despite the challenges she is facing.

Adedayo and other young women in financial hardship are receiving scholarships. “I will make my supporters proud by doing my possible best in my education.”

Thanks to your support, Wavecrest is providing Adedayo and other young women in her situation with financial help to continue her education as well as the technology and data she needs to follow her classes online.

Thank you for supporting the education of young women like Adedayo around the world.

With gratitude,

Camille

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Maxinne, Philippines
Maxinne, Philippines

“It is important for women to have access to technology and digital skills so that we can learn and improve ourselves.” - Maxinne

At the start of the pandemic, 17-year-old student Maxinne wasn’t sure that she could continue her culinary arts course at Anihan Technical School. “My family can’t afford to support my studying online because they have to spend money for my cell phone prepaid load for me to connect to the internet using cellular data”, she tells us.

With the help of supporters like you, our local partner FPTI has been distributing tablets and data to Maxinne and other young women so they can keep learning online through the pandemic. Without access to these tools, they would miss out on their education during this time.

Maxinne is still adjusting to studying online and sometimes struggles with a poor online connection, “there are times when I can’t connect with my classmates and teachers because of poor signal”, she explained. However, she is eager and happy to be learning new digital skills.

For Maxinne, “it is important for women and girls to have access to technology and have digital skills so that we can learn and improve our skills. This will help us to engage in technology knowing how to use it in a good way.”

Having digital skills will also help young women like Maxinne to stay ahead in the future: “if I have digital skills, I can use those skills to set up my own business and do marketing online to help the growth of my business”.

“With the success of my business I can help support my family”, she adds.

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Organization Information

WONDER Foundation

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WONDERFDN
Project Leader:
Nicole Bayes-Fleming
London, United Kingdom
$46,038 raised of $57,000 goal
 
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