Women, Children and Youth Innovation Challenge
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015 embody a roadmap for progress that is sustainable and leaves no one behind; including women, children and youths.
A number of issues pose a threat to the achievement of the SDGs. These include, but are not limited to, lower levels of education and financial literacy, lower income levels, socio-cultural constraints and a lack of market exposure. UN Women reports that although women are more affected by these problems, they possess great ideas and leadership to solve them. But gender discrimination holds women back, inevitably holding the world back.
Like women, youths and young children represent a significant growing human resource with the potential to contribute to sustainable economic development. 40 % of Malawi’s population is aged between 10-35 years and lack basic opportunities to develop their potential. UNESCO reports that although more opportunities for education have been created for children, the quality of this education remain questionable.
To recognise the potential of its youth Malawi designed the National Youth Policy to empower and push them to be the best. Since then, implementation mechanisms have been developed accordingly.
It goes without mention however, that most of the world’s problems today require Digital Solutions. And once governments engage their population, specifically women, youth and children for the purpose of fostering exposure to these technologies, successful development is inevitable. Digital exclusion poses a threat as women, children and youths are limited in their access of technology. Providing the right training and exposure to these will equip and provide them with the necessary tools to solve their various challenges.
A survey was conducted in Mozambique, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe to determine the importance of information and technology systems in achieving development. In Mozambique (Mozambique country report 2009), the survey established that digital inclusion is beyond making people ‘literate’ in IT, providing computers and teaching people to use windows.
The principal message to be underlined however is that making IT available is not enough to ensure that people have access but to ensure that it is used in appropriate ways to resolve daily concerns. In this regard Mozambique adopted an ICT Policy.
Digital inclusion contributes to the socio-economic development of society and helps reduce division between rural economies and urban areas. We need to ensure equal access for women, children and youths to information, education and learning, training, buying/selling of goods and services, entertainment, employment opportunities and effective communication.
It is for this reason that we invite women, children and youths from the Zambezi Basin countries namely Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe to participate in this Women, Children & Youth Innovation Challenge (WCYIC). The Challenge will help discover, create, and develop ideas in which technologies can be used in addressing the challenges our communities are facing. Additionally, to identify how women, youths and children can be equipped to apply technology-based solutions in their day to day endeavors.