Gender Equality in the Digital Age: Women’s Organisations in Samoa Benefit from Digitisation
This article first appeared in the Samoa Observer.
The world is being shaped by technology and innovation like never before, it has revolutionised the way we live, work and interact with each other. The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for gender equality. How does innovation and technology advance gender equality? Digital technology has great potential to support and strengthen work done by women led organisations in advocating for women and girls.
In Samoa, the Samoa National Council of Women (SNCW) and the Samoa National Teachers Association (SNTA) have benefitted from a digital upgrade with the provision of laptops through the Women in Leadership in Samoa (WILS) Project. SNCW is the longest serving non-government women’s movement in Samoa’s history, and over the years, these two organisations have collected and manually filed all documentation for meetings, programmes, agreements and other important work.
Ms. Fuatino Pamela Sua, SNCW Secretary shared, “At the time, it was convenient and easily accessible given calculations were performed manually which eliminates the risk of duplication mistakes and corrupt data. At the same time, it was also a struggle as it was time consuming and costly to produce reports when it was needed.
“It took up a lot of space especially in our small office and when in the process of retrieving important information, it often took time to search and find documents that may not be where I had thought I had filed them last, it was a challenge,” she said.
Empowering women and girls by improving their access to digital technologies can benefit other aspects of their lives including education, employment, health as well as access to critical information they need. Digital innovation and technology should be a priority for policymakers, educators, employers and families alike.
Now, SNCW have been able to digitise their information, because of the provision of a laptop. The decision to digitise all of the organisation’s files was a step towards making their information safe, secured and saving the organisation time and money with printing costs and procuring filing cabinets. For SNCW, digitisation of their data has been especially powerful; it grants them the ability to gather a better understanding of their members and make data-driven decisions that can improve their operations of the organization for women and girls in the community.
Gender equality is good for innovation in the teaching profession, and the SNTA have seen this firsthand. The SNTA have already started on the work of digitising their data. Digital filing reduces the risk of information loss as files can be stored online without the potential threat of mishandling of information when doing manual filing.
“We saw the need to digitise all the information that we were gathering from the trainings especially on transformational programs for our teachers. This is for future reference and to help us identify areas that we need to support more on and areas where the work that has been done has succeeded in,” said Gatoloai Tilianamua Afamasaga, SNTA Secretary . Additionally, digitisation has helped SNTA become more efficient and organized. Like SNCW, the online filing systems have helped them keep track of important documents and files more easily.
Through technology, the SNTA and SNCW have been empowered to advocate for women and girls with readily available, accurate, compelling data. The inclusion of women and girls in the digital era is critical. Digital platforms increase access to opportunities and provide useful, critical, and sometimes even lifesaving information.
The Women in Leadership in Samoa (WILS) project is a three-year joint project implemented by UN Women and UNDP in the Pacific with funding from the Australian Government, in partnership with the Government of Samoa.
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UN Women’s WILS Project
The Women in Leadership in Samoa Project seeks to build and reinforce progress already made on gender equality and women’s leadership in Samoa. It aims to strengthen women’s leadership targeting women in the community, younger women, and potential candidates for elections. Through partnerships, networks, advocacy, outreach, civic awareness and capacity building initiatives, the Project hopes for an increased civic awareness of the need for inclusive participation and effective representation of women. Evidence from this Project will be a national and regional source of knowledge through continued research and analysis, and with South-South exchanges for experiences and lessons sharing with counterparts and other actors.