Women’s Entrepreneurship, Digital Dialogue and Exchange Among Young Girls: Keys to Sustainable Development in Burkina Faso
ICTs transform access to information in Africa and young people’s search for employment. Smartphones and Internet are now more and more accessible to the greater public and constantly expanding. The ICT sector plays a strategic role in the economic development of countries and is at the heart of interactions between industry, services, and local content. The sector has also directly and significantly contributed to the economic growth cycle and job creation in recent years. It is expected that ICTs will produce effects similar to those induced by major technological developments during the industrial revolution which began in the nineteenth century. In Burkina Faso, one of the least connected countries in Africa, young people, and particularly girls, continue to have difficulties in accessing information, and more precisely, access to job offers.
It is in this context that a series of activities to build the capacity of girls on the use of mobile applications to fight against poverty in Burkina Faso, was organized during the months of July and August 2016 by UNESCO and the African Youth Network. During the first phase, 104 girls were trained in the use of mobile applications to fight poverty, especially among girls. The next phase focused on initiating 20 young women leaders of associations in the development, design and sharing of mobile applications.
In order to ensure sustainable interactions among the young women trained through the use of ICT platforms, the African Youth Network made available effective networking tools, specifically designed to facilitate young girls’ understanding of online networking strategies. Young girls, all connected thanks to the virtual network, used social networks as support for direct online exchanges.
Finally, as part of the promotion of women’s entrepreneurship and the dissemination of knowledge acquired during the trainings, eight interactive radio programs, animated by young girls trained in French and local languages (moore, diula, and dagara) were produced in partnership with community radio stations. These stations, with large audiences in Burkina Faso, including radio stations in the rural regions of Ziniaré and Diebougou, had four broadcasts each. The central theme of these radio shows was "Promoting Poverty Reduction Among Young Girls through Female Entrepreneurship."
In Africa, Radio broadcasts continue to be crucial tools for providing access to education and information. The radio shows produced had a significant impact on the access to information of populations in Burkina Faso and consequently on the ownership and sustainability of actions undertaken in the framework of this capacity building initiative. As a result, the radio shows produced and the modules of the aforementioned training were recorded on CDROM and USB key and distributed to the workshop participants to encourage further training of their peers.
This capacity building initiative is part of UNESCO’s YouthMobile Initiative and The Information for All Programme (IFAP). The UNESCO YouthMobile Initiative, created in 2014, offers introductory courses in computer programming (learning-to-code) and problem solving (coding-to-learn). The initiative targets young boys and girls to acquire basic technical skills and the necessary confidence for the development, promotion and marketing of mobile applications that address local sustainability issues. By 2017, the initiative’s overall objective is to allow at least 25,000 young people to develop the skills of the 21st century to fully participate in addressing the challenges of sustainable development in their communities. The initiative introduces young people to entrepreneurship and to create viable employment opportunities in the mobile phone industry and ICT Sector. The Information for All Programme, is an intergovernmental programme created in 2000 by UNESCO, which aims to mobilize new opportunities of the information age to create equitable societies through better access to information. The Information for all programme works in close collaboration with other intergovernmental organizations and international NGOs, in particular with the ones which are specialized in the management and preservation of information for its promotion in local communities.
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