Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says women participation in the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector is woefully low more especially in the countries of the South.

“It is important to encourage young women to consider careers in areas as such Science and ICT sectors. Studies show that women still have limited access to education and therefore fewer women are able to enter the ICT sector” said Minister Kubayi-Ngubane.

The Minister was speaking at the Regional Gender Sensitization Workshop hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa Region in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature. The theme for the workshop was “Mechanism to Strengthen Gender Equality” and it is in line with Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals which seeks to “Promote Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women”.

Emphasising the importance of ICT in accelerating women empowerment, Minister Kubayi-Ngubane said the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) calls for speedy transformation in the ICT sector.

“The convergence of information or software systems and ICT created digital platforms for accessing and analysing information. Hence the advent of data economy which is at the centre of the 4th industrial revolution. We need to ensure that women are given all necessary tools to adventure this new economy”

“With the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women empowerment is no longer an option. We need to enact policies that will ensure that there is an increased and affordable access to the internet connectivity. The 4th Industrial Revolution can provide women with broader access to online services such as health care and education. It can eliminate gender digital divide which remains most severe in poorer countries. Lack of awareness about the ICT benefits for women is a huge barrier to entry for women empowerment” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

Chairperson of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Ms Lindiwe Maseko who was one of the speakers said public policy is another mechanism for change and gender equality. She further said that parliamentarians should heed a call to ensure that the legislative process is open and transparent for women to participate.

The Gender Sensitization Workshop also addressed the issue of women representation in decision making bodies of the society. Guest speakers stressed the need to mentor young women in leadership roles and the allocation of resources to drive the women empowerment agenda.

The workshop was attended by members of the Common Wealth Parliamentary Association Africa Region with representatives from countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Mauritius and Uganda.