Lack of ICT pay gap data hampers digital economy

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Africa has among the lowest levels of sex-disaggregate information and communications technology (ICT) data available globally.

This has serious implications for identifying, taking action on and evaluating progress toward digital gender equality on the continent.

This is according to the Sex-Disaggregated ICT Data in Africa report conducted by the Equals Research Coalition, a coalition of stakeholders dedicated to promoting digital gender equality, co-founded by the International Telecommunication Union and partners.

The new report aims to enhance understanding of the full extent of the data gap, with an analysis of the availability and coverage of sex-disaggregated data in Africa in internationally available databases.

The analysis covers 11 indicators of ICT access, skills and leadership between 2010 and 2020.

According to the report, there is a need for better data collection across the continent, as many African countries currently lack surveys to collect sex-disaggregated ICT data. When surveys are conducted, there is also a gap in who is included in the results, it notes.

The research further points out that one-fifth of all African countries with data cannot construct a time series of sex-disaggregated ICT data for any indicator, limiting the ability to track changes in digital access, skills, or leadership over time.

“Monitoring data on a sex-disaggregated basis is only possible on a delayed schedule because much of the sex-disaggregated ICT data are many years out of date in Africa.

“Furthermore, little to no data is available on cyber violence on the continent − a widespread, but difficult to capture, aspect of gender-based violence. There is a need to prioritise collecting this data to ensure governments and private companies can make laws and products that protect women and girls from online abuse.”

On average, the most recent data-point across all African countries, indicators and disaggregation available is from 2016, notes the report.

The countries with the timeliest sex-disaggregated data are Algeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tunisia and Zambia, with the most recent data recorded being from 2018.

While they do not have timely sex-disaggregated data, Cote d’Ivoire and Egypt have 2018 data available for the total population. In contrast, Gambia and Liberia have the least timely data for both men and women, as the most recently available data on multiple indicators is from 2012. Liberia also has an average latest year of 2012 for the total population for three indicators.

In Africa, there is no specific data available on a country-wide level on gender pay gaps within the ICT profession, according to the Equals Research Coalition.

The study highlights the importance of pairing inclusive labour policies with more data-gathering efforts to understand the ICT field of employment and new industries emerging from the digital economy.

“This lack of available info mirrors the difficulty in consistently capturing the economic contribution of women in a standardised way and the lack of focus this topic has received from the statistical community, even in advanced economies such as SA. A full accounting of women’s contributions to the economy, including in sectors such as ICT, is necessary to capture the true extent of gender inequality and find ways to address it,” notes the study.

Aside from employment in ICT professions such as mobile network operators, software companies, or digital services companies, the study highlights more Africans are starting to find employment in ICT-enabled professions. This is most notable in the rise of ‘gig work’, which entails fulfilling micro-tasks online or deliveries placed through digital fulfilment services.

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15 Aug
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