Tag: African

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How media representations of gender can reinforce harmful stereotypes 

As the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence comes to an end, it’s crucial to examine the pivotal role the media plays in shaping our perceptions of gender. From movies and advertisements to news reports and social media, the media landscape significantly influences how we perceive masculinity, femininity, and the roles assigned to different genders. However, the impact of these representations is not neutral; rather, it often perpetuates harmful stereotypes that often reflects and reinforces harmful narratives that have real-world consequences.

One of the most concerning aspects of media representations are simplistic and often inaccurate portrayals of gender. Women are frequently portrayed as passive,  weak, and dependent, while men are depicted as strong, dominant, and entitled. These portrayals not only limit individual expression but also create unrealistic standards, leading to the normalisation of power imbalances and become justifications for discrimination, harassment, toxic behaviours within relationships  and even violence.

The hypersexualization of women and the objectification of their bodies  in the media is another troubling trend. Advertisements and entertainment often reduce women to mere objects of desire, emphasising physical appearance over intellect or character. This objectification not only dehumanises women but also normalises the idea that their worth is solely based on their looks, fostering a culture that enables harassment, assault, and discrimination.

The perpetuation of these stereotypes and biassed representations in media contributes to a culture that trivialises gender-based violence. When violence against women is normalised in movies, TV shows, or news reports, it desensitises audiences and minimises the severity of such acts. This can lead to victim-blaming mentalities or an attitude that downplays the seriousness of abusive behaviours.

However, the media isn’t solely a negative force. It can be a powerful tool for positive change. By promoting diverse and empowering representations of gender, media can challenge stereotypes, raise awareness, and inspire societal transformation. When media platforms showcase strong, independent women, supportive and emotionally intelligent men, and diverse gender identities, they contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society.

As consumers of media, we hold the power to demand change. By critically engaging with media content, supporting diverse representations, and holding media outlets accountable for their portrayal of gender, we can create a society where harmful stereotypes are shattered, and all individuals are valued and respected, regardless of their gender identity.

This is a call to action for media creators, consumers, and activists alike. Let us acknowledge the influence of the media on shaping societal attitudes and take proactive steps to challenge harmful stereotypes. By advocating for accurate, diverse, and respectful representations of all genders in media, we pave the way for a world free from gender-based violence and discrimination. Together, let’s amplify our voices and strive for a future where everyone, regardless of gender, can live free from fear and oppression.

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Bridging the Policy Gaps for an Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem

In Nigeria, certain policies  have negatively impacted the innovation ecosystem either directly or through implementation failures. Some of which include the ban on bike hailing platforms like Gokada, ban of fintechs from offering bank verification number validation services, ban on cryptocurrency etc. However, there are promising developments such as the introduction of the Nigeria Startup Act and the National Blockchain Policy, which have the potential to bring about positive changes in the innovation ecosystem. We will delve into these recent policies in the remaining part of this article.

One of the outcomes of the AfriConEU project is to produce a report that provides policy recommendations to be included in the blueprint for trans-continental collaborations in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. In line with this, on May 18th, 2023, Emerging Communities Africa (ECA), a partner on the AfriConEU project, organised a policy roundtable discussion at Enspire Hub in Abuja. The event, titled “Bridging the Policy Gaps for an Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem,” brought together African policymakers from various sectors, local DIHs, startups and other European policy experts to discuss and provide policy recommendations and implementation approaches. 

The event started with an introduction by Promise from Buni Hub, Tanzania, a member of the AfriConEU consortium; she provided an overview of the AfriConEU Project. During her presentation, she highlighted the upcoming boot camps that will take place in four African countries, as well as the capitalization event scheduled to be held in Europe later this year.

After Promise’s introduction, Peace Odili, the ED of ECA, gave a summary of the State of Play report, a research conducted in 2021 by ATBN in the four African ecosystems to draft  evidence-based policy recommendations for collaboration between these ecosystems. Peace presentation established the context for the discussions that followed with focus on the Nigerian ecosystem.

Nwanne Nwonwu Programs Coordinator(AfriConEU Project), ECA gave a summary of the The Nigeria Startup Act (NSA), which is aimed at ensuring that Nigeria’s laws and regulations are clear, planned and work for the tech ecosystem. She gave insight to some of the benefits that the act provides such as Startup labelling(for startups less than 10 years), Startup Investment Seed fund (a minimum of ₦10B annual fund for labelled/licensed startups), Regulation Support (to ease technology transfer),  Startup  Engagement portal (for interaction between startups and the government) and lots more.

Adraino Mauro from  DIGILOGIC a fellow member of the ICT-58 family  took the stage next and gave a 20 mins presentation on how DIGILOGIC is building bridges between the islands of innovation scattered across Europe and Africa to build the first Smart Logistic Pan EU-Africa Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) fostering a broad digital transformation in the African logistics sector.  His presentation highlighted some of the challenges these DIHs face including; 

(i) Heavy reliance on public funding, (ii) Hardship in retaining qualified staff as they are quickly  stolen by ICT industries, (iii) DIHs offer trainings that are too basic for the start ups and innovators needs, (iv) DIHs not offering test before invest services and (v) DIHs are yet to be specialised.

The final session was the panel discussion which featured Tracy Okoro –  State Adoption and Domestication Lead, Nigerian Startup Act, Anderson Emmanuel – Founder Mipple Technologies Limited, Olaoluwa Olorunnisomo – Co-founder, Seedbuilders Innovation Hub, Dr Ephraim Chukwuka Okejiri – Director, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), and Hauwa Ibrahim Hadejia, Assistant Manager, Legal Enforcement and Regulations Unit, Nigeria Data Protection Bureau  (NDPB) and was moderated by Nwanne Nwonwu. 

The panel highlighted the existing disconnect between the government and startups, making it challenging for startups to thrive in Nigeria. To address this issue, the NSA team worked together to create policies that foster an enabling environment for founders and talents in the innovation ecosystem and the adoption process has started with 6 states in Nigeria already covered.

The panel also addressed the need to connect different ecosystems to facilitate the exchange of talents between them. Measures were discussed, including training and retaining the right talents through initiatives such as remote work, hourly charges, and milestone-based engagement rather than strict 9-5 working hours. It also stated that there is a  concentration of ecosystems in two major cities; Lagos and Abuja, and recommended that states establish their own ecosystems to engage talents within their regions and prevent migration to the major cities.

Another important topic discussed was the National Blockchain Policy that was recently announced by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMCDE) .  Mr Anderson stated that The blockchain policy is an important move by the government to accommodate blockchain innovation in the country after the ban on crypto, although there is still no clarity as to how the government intends to implement the policy.

Data privacy was also emphasised. The NDPB shared its efforts in developing a centralised database while simultaneously protecting distributed data in schools, banks, hospitals, and other sectors. They also highlighted the focus on providing data support for startups and facilitating cross-border data sharing. 

Mr Olaoluwa also discussed the recently announced $618 million tech fund to support the tech and creative sectors for young investors who struggle to raise capital launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo under the Investment in  Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) programme. He stated that reaching out to the diaspora for early-stage startup investments will be a good way to raise funds for this cause and support tech4good.

The panel concluded by emphasising the need to map stakeholders beyond the tech ecosystem when implementing new policies, conducting public awareness campaigns about existing policies, making it mandatory for state-owned parastatals to engage in trans-continental partnerships bi-annually, and involving the people affected by the policies in the policy-making process. Implementation plans for policies were also emphasised as crucial for effective policy outcomes.

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Bridging the Gender Gap: How Women are Transforming the African Entrepreneurial Landscape

The startup ecosystem in Africa is currently thriving and poised for significant growth and success in the coming years. In the last half-decade, the ecosystem has achieved several significant milestones, including an increase in the number of female-led startups, business expansion to different regions, multi-million-dollar acquisitions and exits,etc. 

Despite the significance of these accomplishments in Africa’s startup ecosystem, there remains a lack of diversity in funding, particularly concerning female-owned startups, whose funding from domestic and international investors remains notably lower compared to male entrepreneurs. According to this piece from the big deal, female-led startups only received 4% of the total $4.8 billion invested in African startups in 2022. This amount  is 25 times less, compared to the funding that female-led startups received in 2021.

This article aims to acknowledge the accomplishments of female founders in different sectors in Africa and to explore the difficulties they encounter.

Let’s look at some female founders and their impact.

 

Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti: 'Self-doubt is the biggest quencher of creativity' | The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News — Guardian Woman — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

Ife Durosimi-Etti, CEO Herconomy 

Herconomy is more than a mobile savings app, it’s the largest community designed to give women access to the resources they need to thrive, switch up their money game and build the life they want. Herconomy currently has over 60,000 women savers who have saved over $100,000 in total and has plans to onboard unbanked women (those without bank verification numbers) to her community.

 

Using AI to fight cancer: an interview with Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa, Founder and Executive Director, Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab | Business Insider Africa

Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa, Founder CHIL AI Lab

CHIL  AI Lab is battling cancer with a range of impressive products and services, including non-invasive self-testing kits that utilise machine learning and AI to diagnose cervical and breast cancer and its AI-powered mobile app named Keti, that allows women consult with oncology experts, have samples collected and sent to laboratories,  have their test results interpreted and advised on what next steps to take. CHIL AI Lab self-testing kits are currently in use across 25 countries.

 

Tao Laine Boyle - Co-Founder - FoondaMate | LinkedIn

Tao Laine Boyle, co-founder FoondaMate

FoondaMate is an edtech startup that enables access to online learning for students via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. FoondaMate currently has over 1 million users across the world and has helped thousands of students pass their exams through their AI powered bot.

 

Nicole Galletta | YourStory

Nicole Galletta, co-founder iProcure

iProcure is the largest agricultural supply chain platform in rural Africa connecting agricultural manufacturers and distributors to local retailers (agro-dealers), through its unique distribution infrastructure that interlinks agricultural supply chains.  It also provides business intelligence and data-driven stock management across the supply chains. It currently connects more than 5,000 agro-dealers to different manufacturers.

Although female entrepreneurs  in Africa have made progress, they still face several challenges when starting out.  Female entrepreneurs often struggle to secure funding for their businesses, with many investors preferring to invest in male-led startups and this limits their ability to scale their businesses. Cultural biases and stereotypes can make it difficult for women to succeed in traditionally male-dominated industries. Female entrepreneurs also find it difficult to get qualified personnel due gender bias. Additionally, female entrepreneurs often lack support networks and mentors, which can make it difficult for them to navigate the challenges of starting and growing a business.

However, the future of female entrepreneurs in Africa looks promising, as more and more successful female entrepreneurs are emerging and bringing new perspectives and approaches to traditionally male-dominated industries. To ensure the economy thrives, it is essential to support female entrepreneurs by helping them start their ventures, providing mentorship, access to finance, creating supportive environments, and promoting gender diversity and inclusion in all sectors of the economy. With the right support from government, non-government, and private sectors, female entrepreneurs have the potential to drive economic growth and create a brighter future for Africa.