Promoting gender equality: COL celebrates International Women’s Day, 8 March 2023

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The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is doing its part to promote gender equality in education and training through digital innovation and technology, according to Professor Asha Kanwar, President of Commonwealth of Learning (COL), in a video message celebrating International Women’s Day.

As an intergovernmental organisation (IGO) focused on promoting learning for sustainable development through the use of technologies, COL has developed innovations to advance gender equality in education and training. While 66 per cent of the global population is connected to the internet, many women and girls in the Commonwealth are on the wrong side of the digital divide. To address this, COL is applying technologies that are appropriate, affordable and available to reach the last mile.

Some examples of COL’s work include the Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) initiative program, which uses basic mobile phones to provide short audio lessons in local languages on agriculture and financial literacy to women farmers, leading to empowerment and economic gains. In India, women were trained with COL support to set up wireless networks and rural communities have benefited from improved access to the internet. Additionally, COL’s CommonwealthWiseWomen program uses a range of technologies, including WhatsApp, to link eminent women to girls in remote regions to provide mentoring and support.

However, more needs to be done to keep women and girls up to speed with developments in technology, such as generative artificial intelligence and robotics. COL will continue to provide solutions that work in different contexts and promote enabling policies that help women transcend discriminatory barriers while raising community awareness for supporting girls’ education.

In conclusion, Professor Kanwar urges everyone to remember Maya Angelou’s inspiring words: “Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.” The sky is the limit for all women and girls. Happy International Women’s Day 2023!

Watch the video message from the President

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