Digital Economy Innovation

Women in GovTech Challenge

What are the benefits of the Women in GovTech Challenge? It arises from the need inclusion and diversity in the digital transformation of governments. Innovation in governance is essential to modernize the delivery of public services, enhance transparency and accountability, and promote citizen participation in governance. As the world becomes increasingly digital, governments run the risk of being left behind by technology. Unsurprsingly, governments often struggle to achieve true digital transformation.

Women in GovTech Challenge and egovernment

Governments must however adapt to ensure that their services are accessible, user-friendly, and meet the needs of their citizens. But, achieving digital transformation is not an easy task. It requires a diverse team with various skills, perspectives, and experiences to succeed.

Interestingly, the GovStack initiative is a multi-stakeholder initiative led by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Estonia, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Digital Impact Alliance.

E-goverment sloganering is commonplace, however, The lack of citizen-centric, inclusive and equitable digital government services is a reality. GovStack aims to break down the barriers to building sustainable digital public infrastructure and help governments create human-centered digital services that empower individuals, improve well-being and build more inclusive and resilient societies.

Underrepresentation of Women in Tech Industry

With a focus on representation in government digital teams, the Women in GovTech Challenge is an attempt to address the underrepresentation of women in the tech industry. According to recent reports, women make up 26% of the global tech workforce and 11% of tech leaders. This underrepresentation has significant consequences for the development and management of government digital services.

The challenges facing women in government digital teams have persisted due to historical gender biases, lack of representation of women in leadership positions, cultural and social norms, gender tech skill gap, and institutional barriers to entry and advancement.

Other challenges include a lack of support from senior leadership. These challenges prevent women from gaining recognition and accessing career advancement opportunities. They also hinder their ability to contribute fully to the development and management of government digital services.

Women in GovTech Challenge

The Women in GovTech Challenge 2023-2024 aims to address this problem by encouraging more women to participate in government digital teams and providing them with the necessary resources and support to succeed. It offers training and development as well as mentoring and coaching opportunities.

Essentially, an aim is to increase the number and capabilities of women in digital roles and leadership positions. It specifically addresses the unique challenges faced by women in government digital teams. The challenge fosters greater collaboration and information sharing among women in government digital teams. The initiative recognizes that diversity and inclusion are critical for creating citizen-centric digital government services that meet the needs of all citizens.

Indeed, the benefits of the Women in GovTech Challenge 2023-2024 are numerous. Firstly, it promotes gender diversity and inclusion in government digital teams, leading to better decision-making and problem-solving. The result should be more effective government digital services. Secondly, it provides a platform for women to showcase their skills, gain visibility, and advance their careers. Thirdly, it creates a supportive community of women in government digital teams. Women in the network can share knowledge and experiences, offer mentorship and guidance, and collaborate on projects.

Despite the benefits of promoting women in government digital teams, several challenges persist. The Women in GovTech Challenge is not a cure all. Other issues relating to culture and environment matter as well. For example  are there flexible working arrangements, targeted recruitment and training, and efforts to eliminate gender bias and discrimination in hiring and promotion?

Women in GovTech Challenge Africa

The Women in GovTech Challenge has relevance and potential impact in Africa as well. The specific context and challenges may however vary across different regions and countries in Africa. The need for gender diversity and inclusion in government digital teams is undoubtedly a global concern.

In many African countries, there is a growing emphasis on digital transformation and leveraging technology to improve government services and citizen engagement. Indeed, the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) recently organized its annual IT Assembly around egovernment: e-Government for transparency, accountability and good governance

Women in Africa are still underrepresented in the tech industry and government digital teams, limiting their participation and contribution to these transformative initiatives.

The Women in GovTech Challenge is an opportunity for women in Africa to develop capacities to participate, contribute, and lead in government digital teams. It can empower African women to play a more significant role in shaping digital government services in their countries. It is also in line with the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024).

Furthermore, just like on other continents, the Women in GovTech Challenge can help in addressing addressing cultural and societal barriers, providing mentorship and networking opportunities. Additionally, it can offer opportunities to highlight successful women leaders in government and technology sectors across the continent.

Women in GovTech Challenge: Apply now as participant or mentor

It is for women who desire to be empowered to lead digital government.

It is a unique opportunity for them to master the necessary skills to develop citizen-centric digital government services. They learn technical and soft skills, and accelerate their GovTech career. Tailored for women in government digital teams, participants will get guided support to develop their own digital services that can be implemented in their countries. Top projects will be showcased at the World Summit in the Information Society (WSIS) 2024.

Women can join the challenge as a participant or mentor. Participants are expected to be women working in government digital teams. They should be in roles such as solution architects, developers, service designers, regtech, cybersecurity specialists, among other GovTech domains.

Mentors should be women working at senior levels in GovTech in similar roles.

Applications open: 28 April – 31 August 2023

Leveraging the Talent and Potential of Women in Government

Initiatives like the Women in GovTech Challenge promote gender diversity and inclusion in government digital teams in Africa and beyond. Nations should leverage the immense talent and potential of women to drive innovation, improve service delivery, and foster inclusive governance for the benefit of all citizens

However, ensuring the effectiveness and impact of initiatives like the Women in GovTech Challenge 2023-2024 can be challenging. Great initiative but sustainability is critical so it doesn’t become a flash in the pan. How is the impact of the initiative sustained beyond the training period?

The initiative must be adequately resourced, have clear goals and objectives, and its impact must be measured regularly. Robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms should also be in place to measure the impact of the initiative on participants and the broader digital ecosystem.

It must also be integrated into the broader government digital ecosystem. There must therefore be engagement and collaboration with stakeholders, including senior leadership. This is to ensure buy-in and support for its objectives. Approaches should be open, inclusive and collaborative.

It is also advisable that such initiatives are designed in a way that enables participants to share their knowledge and skills with their colleagues and the broader digital community.

Critically, the program must be accessible and inclusive for women from diverse backgrounds, including those with disabilities and those from marginalized communities.

Conclusion: Women in GovTech Challenge

In conclusion, the Women in GovTech Challenge appears to be a valuable initiative that has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of women in government digital teams. A commitment to gender diversity and inclusion at all levels of government and across the digital ecosystem is crucial. By promoting gender diversity and inclusion in government digital teams, we can create citizen-centric digital government services that meet the needs of all citizens.

I encourage all women who are interested in participating or mentoring to apply before the deadline of August 31, 2023. Apply now to create a more inclusive and effective government digital ecosystem on:

Author: Jide Awe

Science, Technology and Innovation policy advisor.

Find him on Twitter @jidaw

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