ALMOST nothing brings together a large number of vastly different interests and skill sets like technology. Little wonder then that the recently held Social media week in Lagos was as versatile an event as one can imagine.
Politics had its day in the cloud as Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai praised social media for its impact on governance. Your Excellency, a game designed by the Youth Alive Foundation finally presented Nigerian youths with the opportunity to serve in government. There were eye opening sessions on how to enhance the agricultural space with technology. Experts and academics gathered to discuss EdTech and the future of African education. While music had its day with the #beattobucks campaign, new generation banks sang the social banking song.
But when it all came down to it, it seemed to be a woman’s world at the fifth edition of Social Media Week Lagos with several events targeted specifically at the fairer sex. Some of them included: Become a Kick-Ass Tech Mum; Connected Africa: Empowering Young Women Through Tech; Gender Equality in the Digital Age; Hair We Go: Technology and The Natural Hair Movement; African Women In Tech Luncheon; Women in Tech Startup Alley Women in Digital – How to Stand Out in the Crowd; Using Technology and Social Media To Counter Violence Against Women & Girls; and Meet Your New Favourite Girl Children:
The Afracanah Podcast Live. For photographer and Senior Special Assistant (New Media) to Kebbi State Governor, Mrs.Aisha Augie-Kuta, it is important for women to know their trade well enough and not just leave social media to do the magic. While speaking on ‘Making Social Media work for women,’she said: “Know your craft. For example, I know a lot of photographers who have gears that they don’t use. Whatever your field, there are lots of online courses out there. So improve yourself, and ask questions. Also, if you use good hashtags, then you’re more likely to get noticed.”
Chief Executive Office, House of Tara, was also on hand to inspire ladies. “Building online credibility takes time,” she said. “The important thing is to be patient and consistent. When someone meets you, they must not leave you without knowing what you do. You must also be open to teaching people about your experiences.”
Founder of Tech Her, Ms. Chioma Chuka who anchored quite a number of female-centred programmes during SMW expressed hope that the digital gender gap is slowly closing, making room for more women in technology. She however lamented that most programmes targeted at Women in Technology only focus on Lagos. “If we are to truly make a change, we must focus in women and girls in all the other states of the federation as well,” she said.
The Women in Tech Startup Alley was curated by She Leads Africa and supported by Dangote group. The program kicked off with a keynote speech from Halima Dangote, executive director, Dangote Industries Limited. Four women-led technology companies also had the opportunity to pitch their businesses and demo their product.
These included: Smarthire, an online technology platform that connects businesses to skilled freelancers; GoMyWay Africa a ride-sharing marketplace connecting passengers with ride owners going along the same route and have empty seats to spare; Roomies Connect, a roommate finding portal covering Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and more African countries; St Hub Limited an online business school that teaches people how to create successful online courses.
The purple academy was the brain behind quite a number of the female centred events at SMW Lagos. According to its brand adviser, Mrs. Wura Tunde-Anjous, it is very important that women share inspiring stories of change on social media as people act based on shared experiences. Participants were quite elated at the lessons learnt. Ms. Hannah Ephraim, a jewellery maker who spoke to Vanguard Hi-Tech said: “I’ve learnt a lot about how I can promote my brand on social media and inspire other women as well.”
Mrs. Bunmi Adebimbe who specializes in a baby photography also told our reporters that the programmes at SMW had sparked her learning curve and given her the opportunity to network with prospective clients.
But it was not just business as usual Joy Onoriose Shokoya, lead counselor of Mirabel Center, a sexual assault referral centre, campaigned for the need to use social media to end violence against women and girls. “We have started using social media and technology and we shouldn’t stop; now more than ever we need to get the word out there for people to know that there are centers dedicated to helping them.”
Social media week held from February 25 to March 3 at the Landmark event centre in Victoria Island Lagos with over 60 sessions and thousands of participants.