Cape Town - The Robben Island Museum (RIM) has used its sixth annual Women’s Month Imbokodo lecture to spotlight the efforts and successes of women leading the way in the information and communications technology (ICT) space.
Last Friday night, the lecture series, inspired by the slogan “Wathint’Abafazi, Wathint’Imbokodo” (you strike the woman, you strike the rock), brought together a panel of women technologists, innovators, gender activists and social entrepreneurs to speak about making their mark in the “digital age”.
RIM chief executive Abigail Thulare spoke of the role women played in South Africa’s liberation.
“While it is widely known that men were incarcerated on Robben Island for their opposition to the apartheid system, the narrative that women in fact played a significant role as activists in ensuring democracy and freedom in South Africa is less well known.”
The four women panellists were Dr Pregs Govender, Zandile Mkwanazi, Baratang Miya and Zubeida Zwavel.
Women’s rights activist and author Govender said there was growing income, wealth and gender inequality in South Africa and across the world and the challenge was how innovation and technology would be used to change this state of affairs.
Mkwanazi, founder and chief executive of GirlCode, the largest women in tech-led educational organisation in South Africa, said technology can, and must, be used to close the gender digital divide. “Our responsibility is to create a chain reaction to ultimately reach the most remote rural girl child, and expose her to technology, so that she may realise and unlock her potential. Let’s connect the dots and remove the barriers.”
The NPO GirlHYPE, is dedicated to empowering women and youth from under-represented groups in South Africa’s ICT sector.
GirlHYPE chief executive Miya said through their work in Khayelitsha they had helped young girls develop an app that links unemployed youth with employment opportunities in the recycling space.
Centre for African Resource Efficiency and Sustainability director Zwavel said it was necessary to balance the need to incorporate technology with being responsible citizens.
She said this would create impactful solutions that would ultimately support women in the daily struggle.