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Bridging the Gender Digital Divide

In Northern Nigeria, an estimated 60% of the female population does not have access to the Internet or smartphones. Women’s lack of access is due to multiple obstacles including cost, literacy, appropriate and relevant content in Hausa, knowledge of the potential benefits of the Internet, and cultural and patriarchal gender norms that restrict access. This final barrier; cultural and gender norms, is critical to the sustainable uptake of technology by women and girls in Northern Nigeria. According to a study conducted by Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), 55% of men do not want their wives to use the Internet, and 61% of fathers discourage their daughters’ use. Clerics preach against women’s use, and statistics show both sexes have internalized these ideologies.

A 2018 Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) study illustrated that 24% of female respondents chose the option “family does not approve” as a significant barrier to mobile access. The perspective held by many in international development is that technology is a silver bullet for solving development issues. Without applying a gender lens to program design, technology can exacerbate inequality and actually contribute to, not reduce the gender digital divide.

With funding provided by DAI, EAI is implementing a Grant Agreement, which is designed to support the Tech4Families project aimed at reducing the gender digital divide in Northern Nigeria, through empowering women and girls to access and use digital technology, have access to education, improve livelihood outcomes, and drive positive health for themselves and their families. The Tech4Families solution is built on human-centered design principles and is inclusive of the whole family. Our project will be implemented in the conservative state of Kano in Northern Nigeria. Given the pervasive oppression of women and girls in Northern Nigeria and the lack of digital literacy overall, our solution focuses specifically on the role men play in women and girls’ access to technology. EAI will utilize a variety of tested intervention methods to create an enabling environment with the goal of connecting women and girls to technology.

Equal Access International’s (EAI) approach to lessening the gender digital divide is to address the aforementioned normative barriers to women and girls’ access to, and use of technology at the family level as a critical first step. Our design is grounded in a flexible, adaptive, community-centered approach that begins with in-depth formative research and includes measurement and evaluation inflection points throughout the program to ensure we can pivot the program, based on community input, to achieve our objectives. The project is designed to facilitate an enabling environment, which includes working with men and boys, producing narrative and non-fiction content that models new behaviors via familiar characters and trusted influencers, and facilitated exercises that illustrate the benefits of the Internet for the whole family.


The goal of the Tech4Families project is to reduce the gender digital divide through empowering women and girls to access and use digital technology to drive positive health, education, and livelihood outcomes for themselves and their families. The main objectives of the project are:


Focus Group Discussion (FGD)

The purpose of the FGDs was to better understand community norms, including patterns in individual attitudes and beliefs that inform perspectives on women and girls’ access to and use of technology. The discussions also sought to unearth specific data about what type of technology women and girls have access to, what inhibitors they face, and what were the commonality of those inhibitors across participants. 

In-depth Interviews (IDI)

As part of the formative research for the Tech4Families project, Equal Access International and the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), based in Kano conducted 20 in-depth Interviews (IDIs) on the 29th and 30th of March 2019. The interviews were conducted with teachers, religious leaders, NGO workers, Government representatives and people working in the tech industry in Nigeria. The purpose of the IDIs was to unearth more deeply and from a more informed perspective, the norms surrounding women and girls’ lack of access to technology and the internet in a typical northern Nigerian setting.

Listening Discussion and Action Group (LDAG) Meetings

15 families consisting of 5 members each have been selected to participate in the 16 Listening Discussion and Action Group (LDAG) meetings. The 75 individuals were selected from within the Kano metropolitan area. All families selected were middle to low income families, had not more than 2 wives and had at least 2 female household members. Other criteria were that members of the family had at least secondary school certificates, moderate religious views, and that the children who were participating were not less than 13 years. 

Content Advisory Group Meeting

The Tech4Families maiden Content Advisory Group (CAG) Meeting was conducted on the 8 of August 2019 at the EAI Nigeria country office in Kano. The main objective of the 1 CAG meeting was to intimate the CAG members with the goal and objectives of the project, explain their roles and responsibilities as CAG members, and provide them with an opportunity to make an appraisal of the first production of the Fasaha a Rayuwar Iyali radio program. Whilst the content advisory group is not an editorial board, they do have the important responsibility of ensuring the quality and appropriateness of the content of the radio show (Fasaha A Rayuwar Iyali), provide advice on topics to be discussed, feedback on broadcasted episodes, and highlight any other interventions or relevant materials that will ensure the programming is worthwhile and impactful.

Radio Content Production and Broadcast

The first 4 episodes of the Fasaha A Rayuwar Iyali program were produced between the 15th and 19th of July 2019. The production comprises of both drama and discussion segments of the radio program. Below is a breakdown of topics discussed and guests featured in the 4 episodes.

Stakeholder Workshop

On the 4th of April 2019, a stakeholder workshop was conducted at Babale Suites in Kano. There were a total number of 21 out of 26 invited participants in attendance; 20 from Kano state and 1 from Plateau state. There were 10 female participants and 11 males.