Space technology has helped mitigate COVID-19 impact on women- Group

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By Ijeoma Olorunfemi

Abuja, Oct. 10, 2020 Women in Aerospace Nigeria (WIAN) a Non Govermental Organisation (NGO) says space and satellite technology has helped mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of Nigerian women, especially during the lockdown.

WIAN President, Mrs Nwanneka Ibekwe, who said this in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Saturday said the lockdown provided opportunities for women to build their capacities digitally.

Ibekwe was speaking in commemoration of the International Space Week which is celebrated between Oct. 4 and Oct.10, annually, adding that the theme of the 2020 week is “Satellites Improves Life.’’

She said that through space, satellite technology and data collection, government was able to make informed decisions on addressing the needs of the people even in local communities.

“Normally, women were disadvantaged even before COVID-19, we lack capacity in so many areas intellectually, in education, among others.

“With the advent of the pandemic and availability of space, satellite technology, women can be anywhere and run their businesses.

“Space technology can reach the unreached, a lot of women were able to build capacity, find something they can do from home, pick up jobs to be done remotely.

“Through data collection in this period of pandemic, satellite images from remote areas, it helped the government to make decisions that improved the lives of women and their children,’’Ibekwe said.

According to her, women can stay at the comfort of their homes to showcase their businesses via social media platforms, virtual meeting platforms, all enabled by satellite technology.

She added that communication satellites enabled all forms of communications, thereby creating visibility of businesses online during the COVID-19 lockdown and beyond.

The WIAN president urged women and girls to leverage on the benefits of space technology to develop themselves, their families and the nation at large.

“Every child, especially the girl-child deserve a good life and with space satellite technology, she can grow to become who she wants to be.

“We also encourage girls and young women to pick up careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which are the bedrock of development in any nation.

“Space technology is the best thing that has happened to mankind because there are cultures that don’t encourage their women to mingle.

“If such women have some of these gadgets at their comfort places, their capacities will improve,’’ she said.

Ibekwe also said that WIAN was working on plans for a training programme “Mobile Classroom’’, that would be transmitted through Free-to-Air channel in collaboration with the Nigeria Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT).

She said that the training slated for Oct. 15, would avail girls in rural communities access to space education and education obtainable in urban areas.

“We will be beginning an online training for women to build digital capacity and this kind of training couldn’t have happened without space technology.

“The mobile classroom is designed for us to pick up a channel from our sister agency NIGCOMSAT on a Free-To-Air decoder, while our content will be installed to reach girls in underserved areas.

“The channel can be aired where girls can gather, get exposed to quality educational materials and they will be exposed to space technology knowledge.

“We will be connecting engineers that were part of the design of Nigerian satellites to tell them the benefits of space, encourage them to be develop interest in STEM,’’Ibekwe said.

According to her, the mobile classroom training will be at no cost and zero subscription.

She added that the training was also targeted at girls in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp and rural communities across the country.

Ibekwe said that the activities of the group would help strengthen steps to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs ) four, nine and 10 focusing on education, industrial innovation and reducing inequalities.

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