A workshop focusing on the theme 'Empowering Women through ICT', aiming at better equipping women to deal with virtual violence and to better protect their children, opened this morning at EbAne. The one-day workshop is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation, and the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare.

The Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, and the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Roubina Jadoo-Jaunbocus, were present on the occasion.

In his address, Minister Sawmynaden underlined that ICT has been increasingly promoted as a key solution to comprehensive development to attain the sustainable development goals including the empowerment of women. We live in a society characterised by modern technological devices, wherein the Mauritian population has fully integrated the internet into their daily lives, resulting into an internet penetration rate of 86%, he added.

Speaking about the risks pertaining to the misuse of internet for activities such as sextorsion, online harassment, phishing and identity theft, the Minister emphasised on the need to develop strategies to regulate and curtail harmful and illegal contents on the internet. He added that the cyber security industry which aims at protecting internet users requires the participation and distinct skills of women. He deplored the significant gender gap and low female employment in the field and urged women to embrace it and contribute to protect the world.

Minister Sawmynaden indicated that in terms of Governmental endeavours to protect the nation from online dangers, sensitisation campaigns to target housewives, children, adults and senior citizens, as well as workshops and training sessions for cybersecurity professionals have been set up. Moreover, he added that in 2011, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority has set up an online Content Filtering of Child Sexual Abuse Sites, so that internet service providers in Mauritius are able to effectively filter child sexual abuse or child pornographic sites.

For her part, Minister Jadoo-Jaunbocus highlighted that women play a pivotal role in the society, wherein they are the driving force of their family and are key players to the attainment of the development goals of the nation. She reiterated Government's determination to promote gender equality at all levels through the Gender Mainstreaming Programme, which is on the right track with the cross-collaboration of various ministries.

According to the Minister, empowering women and putting them at the centre of development can yield enormous benefits for the overall welfare of the nation. The internet, she emphasised, is a positive and powerful medium to engage in public life and continue to redefine and revolutionise the way we work and live.

She further pointed out that in line with the aim to making gender equality a reality in the Mauritian society, including women in cybersecurity is of particular relevancy as ICTs are tools that can advance gender equality and women empowerment and are integral to making a society where both men and women can substantially contribute and participate.

She cautioned about the threats of internet which when not used properly can engender risks to vulnerable users such as online harassment which is affecting more and more women around the world. Hence, she added, a major element in protecting people online is educating them about the threats and giving them the information on how to protect themselves.

Source: Government of Mauritius