Industry NewsProcessing & Storage

Kenya’s GIS community is using geospatial solutions to reduce the digital gender divide

Expert Contributions 6 Nov - 17:58 SAST

Kenya’s GIS community is using geospatial solutions to reduce the digital gender divide

Expert Contributions 6 Nov - 17:58 SAST

By Biko Orlale, Women in GIS Kenya Initiative

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought attention to the world’s digital divide, and more so, may reinforce the digital gender divide by deepening existing inequalities, which are in turn amplify the impacts of the pandemic.

When Kenya introduced strict preventive measures in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus in April 2020 – including restricting movement and closing schools – accessing sexual and reproductive health services became much harder. Within months of lockdown, Kenya’s teenage pregnancies have soared (read more here: 1, 2, 3).

Despite exponential technological changes and innovations across all industries, there remains a technology gap between men and women according to the Women and the Web Alliance, a public-private partnership that is teaching digital literacy to women in rural Kenya. This digital gender divide could increasingly prevent women from accessing education, health, and financial inclusion in a world that has become virtual overnight.

To support Ministries of Health, Public Service and Gender and Ministry of Education in Kenya to use technology to bridge the gender divide, Women in GIS Kenya (WiGISKe) developed a location intelligence platform that ingests data from various sources including call centres, documents and reports and automated survey responses to generate insights in the form of dynamic dashboard and digital maps.

Called the “Gender Situation Room”, this solution uses granular, timely, and comprehensive data to provide a complete picture of the impacts of Covid-19 on vulnerable groups such as women, girls and persons with disabilities across three dimensions: health (maternal services, female genital mutilation, gender-based violence), economy (informal employment and unpaid care work) and social (teenage pregnancies). These dimensions allow the solution to be scaled and localised.

To commemorate this year’s GIS Day on 18 November 2020, Women in GIS Kenya (WiGISKe) in collaboration with Women in GIS Uganda (WiGIS Uganda) are bringing together gender advocates/experts, policy makers, tech communities and like-minded individuals to highlight digital solutions that address issues affecting women and girls in Africa. The event dubbed #Hack4Her (see also) will have technical presentations highlighting noble and innovative ways communities, organisations and individuals are creating solutions to bridge gender gaps.

“Our goal is to find real, sustainable solutions to help Africa’s women, girls, the most vulnerable and those at-risk,” says Yariwo Kitiyo, co-founder of WiGISKe.

Biko Orlale is the chairman of the Board of Positive Action Kenya, a youth-led and youth-focused NPO that champions youth development in Kenya through supporting equal access to quality education, holistic skills training, and innovative capacity building initiatives for youth.