At ITU Telecom World 2017 discussions focused on smart digital transformation – and how future technologies will bring benefits to all – including those in developing countries, youth and especially for women and girls.
Many of the debates throughout the event mainstreamed issues related to gender into larger debates around Artificial Intelligence, Small and medium Enterprises (SMEs), the push for digital skills and more.
Kiki Rizki, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Nurbaya Initiative works with the government of Indonesia to provide solutions for SMEs by helping them digitize, giving access to the digital world. In a session, Founders panel: From Startup to Scaleup, she talked about the specific situation in Indonesia and discussed the gender barriers that female founders often have to face. She talked about the situation “almost every woman” has had the experience of, where she stated an idea that was dismissed, only to be repeated by a male colleague, and only then is attention given to the idea. She talked about the need to build resilience for all entrepreneurs, but especially women.
At the Telecom World exhibition Leah Akingeneye, Ms. Geek Rwanda 2017, was at the Rwanda Pavilion to discuss her experience of winning Ms. Geek Rwanda, a competition designed and organized by Girls in ICT Rwanda to inspire girls to use technology, innovation and critical thinking to solve problems in the country, and to consider careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Leah’s winning solution is the Bus System Simulator, a web and mobile-based solution using real-time data to improve public transport in the capital, Kigali. The app lets commuters locate the nearest bus stop and buses, destinations and available space, enabling transport operators to track trips and plan better.
One of the Winners of the ITU Telecom World Awards 2017, Temitope Awosika, from Nigeria, won the ITU Telecom World SME Award for Greatest social impact, for MEDSAF. MEDSAF is a company that utilizes technology to make the process of buying and selling medication easy, and efficient which results in cost-effective and safe medication for the public.
When asked about specific barriers that she has faced as a woman entrepreneur she stated, “Gender bias in society lingers, and in some parts of the world even more so… But if you know what you want to achieve, it’s only a distraction that does not need attention.” She said that as a woman entrepreneur she centers on “working with people you have synergy with… and keeping your focus.”