IWD 2023: DWAN Lagos Pushes For Equality Through Digital Technology

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The Albino Foundation Public Notice

In the spirit of the International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023, Deaf women and girls have been challenged to strive for equality by using digital technology as a leveler.

The charge came in a sequence of lectures and talks delivered at this year’s commemoration of the globally recognized women’s event organized by Deaf Women Association of Nigeria (DWAN) Lagos chapter in collaboration with Isonye Foundation

The event held on Saturday, May 6, in the main auditorium, Wesley School for the Hearing Impaired, 30 Ajao Estate, Surulere, Lagos.

Delivering the main lecture at the commemoration was keynote speaker, Uri Ngozichukwuka, an Inclusion Advocate, Communication consultant and Founder, Empathy Driven Women International Initiative (EDWIIN). The Inclusion advocate spoke with verve and enthusiasm on a topic centered on this year’s IWD theme: “Digital Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”.

She delved into the topic with a brief definition of technology. According to her, technology simplifies modern life. She backed this up with a list of recent innovative/tech gadgets that ease communication, mobility, domestic chores – with special bias for Persons with Disabilities.

While addressing the issue of inequality between the genders, Uri Ngozichukwuka pointed her audience to the wide array of possibilities offered by modern technology and innovations – citing social media, assistive devices, e-commerce and a host other solution providing applications.

According to her, an intelligent use of digital technology can effectively narrow the gender inequality gap.

She said: “Digital innovation can narrow the gender gap by providing women and girls access to technology, enabling access to educational materials, health information, and financial services in low income areas. She urged the women to challenge male dominance by bold ventures into the broad digital space which offers equal access to all irrespective of gender or disability. She drove home her point by emphasizing advantages of digital approach over the traditional brick and mortar pattern citing a specific example – the ability to reach a wider audience.

According to her, other advantages of digital technology for the gender equality crusade includes: bridging the gender superiority gap, increasing women’s economic participation, addressing gender based violence and improving women’s health.

The communication consultant lamented the reluctance of many women and girls to embrace technology. These women, she noted, use outdated biases, disability and complexity as excuses. She challenged these erroneous beliefs with reliable information and findings from research.

She emphatically told the women: “being deaf or having some other kind of disability isn’t an excuse for not embracing the immense possibilities in digital technology”. Using a biblical analogy, she reasoned that “technology originates from God to make life easier for humans and should therefore be embraced by all.

She went on to call for more active involvement of the girl child in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in the Nigerian school system.

Her words: “We need more young girls in STEM”. While allaying fears that technology is hard to understand, she reiterated that what is needed is the boldness to dare.

She concluded by declaring that technology is both the present and future and should therefore be embraced to drive the gender equality campaign.

Guest speaker at the event, Mr Taiwo Balogun of Kallatage World Outreach, an international conference speaker and Creative Executive Officer, CEO, Taiwo Balogun Impact limited. He spoke on the topic: “Design thinking for Gender Equality”.

Design thinking, according to Balogun is a problem solving methodology that focuses on understanding the needs and perspectives of users to create innovative solutions to problems.

Connecting this with theme of the commemoration, the international speaker said “Design thinking can help identify and address the unique challenges faced by women and girls, especially those with disabilities”. He listed 5 processes to achieve this – empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Each of the process covers idea conception to product stage.

While charging his listeners to “think solution” instead of feeling helpless, Balogun said, “Problems are endless. They are not limited to PWDs. As a PWD, the solutions you seek starts from you”.

He went on to point out how design thinking can be used to make life easier for PWDs through digital skills like coding, Artificial intelligence (AI), UX/UI design, etc.

The CEO summed up his talk by challenging the women to rise above complaining and take responsibility by engaging in design thinking to find creative solutions to the problems of living with disabilities.

Earlier in the program, DWAN founder, Deaconess Adedoyin Beyioku-Alase (aka Mama Deaf) set the tone for proceedings with a brief flashback on the history and achievements of DWAN.

Recalling the situation prior to DWAN, Deaconess Adedoyin emphasized that Deafness being a hidden disability puts the Deaf woman at double disadvantage in the gender equality struggle. According to her, this is the gap that DWAN was established to fill.

In her words: “Deaf women are mothers and contributors to society and should be actively involved in all aspects of societal life”.

On the strides so far made by DWAN she says: “We are moving forward though we are not where we ought to be”. She ended with an appeal for more unity of purpose among the women.

The DWAN IWD event was graced by dignitaries and representatives from clusters of the disability community, NGOs and corporate society. Good will messages and short exhortations in line with the IWD theme for the year were delivered by Mr. Dare Dairo (General Manager, LASODA), Mr Daniel Adejuyigbe (Vice Chair, LSAD), Mr Fabilola Festus, Madam Joy Bolarin (Jibore Impeccable Foundation), Mr Busuyi Omopariola (NCPWD), Mrs Victoria Adesanya representing Dr. Adebukola Adebayo, Chairman of JONAPWD, Lagos, Mrs Josephine Omolola (Albinism cluster, Lagos), Mr. Babatunde Willoughby (Intellectual Disability cluster), among others.

Side attractions to the occasion were free health screening and treatment by a team of medics from the Medical Women Association of Nigeria. The audience was treated to an educative drama by DWAN drama team even as a bevy of beautiful Deaf ladies thrilled with tantalizing moves in a catwalk show.

A number of Individuals and an NGO were specially recognized for their contributions to the DWAN cause with conferment of awards of meritorious service – Late Chief Olusola Segun, former chairman, DWAN BoT (post humous), Late Mrs. Fausat Agbabiaka, member, DWAN BoT, (post humous), Mrs. Esther Odusanya (DWAN South West adviser), Mrs Omoniyi Obadare (DWAN South West coordinator), and Isonye Foundation (DWAN Lagos collaborator).

Credit: INN

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