Although the emergence of technology has presented many opportunities to millions of users including access to information, extended social networks, identity expression etc., increasingly these platforms have become a dangerous place for women and young girls.
According to Australia’s Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology, Brendon Dowling, the social media ecosystem has become a place of often brutal, prolific online harassment and abuse for women.
The Ambassador, speaking at a panel discussion organized by the Faculty of Computing and Information Systems in collaboration with the Australian High Commission on the topic ‘Cyber Preparedness in the 4/5th Industrial Revolutions: A Gender-Based Perspective’ in Accra yesterday expressed concerns about the inability of technology companies to protect women and girls from abuse.
“Although technology has provided the opportunity for women to take control of their lives, unfortunately, technology has provided new means for abuse, discrimination and harassment against women and girls. We see on social media where women are subjected to more abuse, trolling, tracking of their movement and their opinions.
“I spent a lot of time talking to global technology platforms such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook and not enough is being done to ensure women are safe online. Not enough is done to identify perpetrators of this abuse or to take done contents that are damaging to women," he stated.
Mr. Brendon Dowling noted that these abuses have deterred a lot of women from taking up prominent positions or running for public office.
The ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology also expressed concern over the male dominance of the technology ecosystem.
He said gender balance is not achieved in the development of technology because not enough women are working in the space.
”Men are more equipped or naturally prepared to work in the cybersecurity or technical professional space. This means that only 10% of women are employed in the cybersecurity space globally. It is a real problem because we struggled to feel some security jobs or we struggled to ensure gender is recognized in the development of technology because we don’t have enough women working in the technology space,” he said.
To bridge the gender gap in the technology space, Dowling said, deliberate government policy to ensure some positions are reserved for women will be helpful.
Ambassador Brendon Dowling was impressed about the progress Ghana is making in the cybersecurity space.
Other panel members including Dr. Millicent Akotam Agangiba- Head of the Department of Information Technology, UPSA, Solomon Atta Owusu Manteaw- Chief Information Security Officer at Stanbic Bank, Representative from Cybersecurity Ghana encouraged the students to take their studies seriously and take up the challenge in the technology space.