Agness, Iman and Hilda top AHOY Africa IWD 2023 Essay Competition

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Ms. Agness Peprah Ankomah, a B.A Political Science student at the University of Education, Winneba emerged winner in the essay competition organised by Advancing and Harnessing Opportunities for the Youth (AHOY Africa) with the support of Oxfam and the European Union to celebrate International Women’s Day 2023. The topic for the essay was, ‘How can technology be used to empower and create equal opportunities for young women?’. This reflected the IWD theme for the year, ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.’

The second-best entry was awarded to Ms. Iman Abubakar, a BEd. Home Economics student from the University of Cape Coast while the third-best entry went to Ms. Hilda Asare Darkwah, a BSc Nursing student also from the University of Cape Coast.

Prizes for the essay included a brand-new laptop and a MiFi device with a 3-month 50GB data bundle for Ms Agness Ankomah, the winner. Ms. Iman Abubakar also took home a brand-new laptop with 50GB data bundle for 1 month, while Ms Hilda Darkwah also took home a brand-new MiFi device with 20GB data bundle for 3 months. These prizes were awarded as part of AHOY’s commitment to women empowerment and gender equality, and to enhance the digital literacy skills and internet access of these young women.

Present at the award ceremony was the Gender Advisor at Oxfam Ghana, Thelma Hayford who was also the Guest Speaker at the award ceremony. She shed light on the need to bridge the gender gap by ensuring the availability of ICT tools and internet access, and at the same time ensuring that the digital space is safer for women and girls to socialise, enhance their skills, and work.

Ms Agness Ankomah, in her essay stated that, “gender equality is not about superimposing women over men but rather shedding centuries-old deep-rooted gender imbalances whose impacts are still felt today.” She also stated that, “progress made in achieving gender equality is ever than before threatened with more complex and unique challenges.” These included the pandemic, climate change, conflict, and the energy crisis.

She acknowledged the role that technology had played in the education, work, and health of women. On menstrual health and hygiene, she acknowledged the role of mobile applications that have increased awareness and preparedness. On contrary, she raised that, ‘there is the problem of ‘period poverty’ caused by the levy of obnoxious taxes on sanitary products.” She further added that, “this is deliberately created and could be solved by the removal of such taxes and to a larger extent making sanitary products affordable and accessible.”

On technology, she mentioned that Blockchain Technology with its superb features of security, transparency, and interconnectedness, makes it “equitable and inclusive and can create and empower and create equal opportunities for women and other marginalized or disadvantaged individuals when embedded in applications.” She also added that Internet of Things (IoT), precisely affective internet of things (AIoT) has the potential of preventing gender-based violence and there is the need for more research and development into AIoT.

Speaking on the issue of gender inequality, the General Manager of AHOY Africa urged young girls to be enthusiastic about ICT and technology and take every opportunity to explore the digital space and use it to gain employable skills.

AHOY used the occasion to announce the ‘Informed to Decide’(I2D) project under their Formal Education and Civic Programs. The project targets young voters in formal institutions in Ghana. The I2D Project is pursuant to “Information for Integrated Decision-Making and Participation,” a related goal to the Sustainable Development Goal 16 – Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

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