In April 2022, the AU-EU Digital for Development (D4D) Hub launched the online communications campaign #GirlsinD4D with the purpose of giving visibility to ten young female professionals from Africa and Europe working to leverage digital technologies for sustainable and inclusive development.
As part of this effort, four #GirlsinD4D nominees were invited to Brussels to attend the 2022 edition of the European Development Days (EDD) — Europe’s leading forum on international partnerships, hosted by the European Commission. The selected participants were Aminata Dembélé, ICT engineer and PhD student from Mali; Arlette Assi, cybersecurity expert from Côte d’Ivoire; Anna-Laura Seifermann, tech and development professional from Germany; and Mumbe Mwangangi, entrepreneur and women’s rights activist from Kenya.
This year’s EDD focused on the Global Gateway, the EU strategy to strengthen its connections with the world. Given the prominent role that the digital sector plays in this strategy, it was an important space for the #GirlsinD4D to present their work, share their insights, and grow their professional network.
“Clearly, we young women in the digital for development sector need to be represented in these kinds of initiatives to ensure that our perceptions and priorities are known to different development stakeholders,” declared Mumbe.
During the event, Anna-Laura and Mumbe supported the facilitation of the brainstorming session Bringing people at the centre of the AU-EU digital partnership, and met with Thierry Barbé, Head of Unit for Science, Technology Innovation and Digitalisation at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA). The two #GirlsinD4D had the opportunity to express their views on Africa-Europe digital cooperation and multi-stakeholder engagement, as well as on the potential of the digital transformation to empower women and youth.
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For their part, Aminata and Arlette met with Jean Van Wetter, Director General of Enabel, and Jérémie Pellet, CEO of Expertise France, to exchange on how European development organisations can help bridge the digital divide. The #GirlsinD4D shared their insights into specific actions to promote participation and inclusion through digital innovation.
“This discussion allowed me to explain some of the difficulties that women and young people in my country face to participate in the digital world, for example accessing resources and training opportunities. I also shared my vision on how the digital transformation can benefit African countries,” said Aminata.
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For the #GirlsinD4D, the EDD were also the occasion to meet new people and discover different initiatives in the digital field. Through numerous informal exchanges and thematic panels, they made connections and learned from experiences in other countries.
“During the EDD, I got to meet people of all backgrounds. It reached from tech entrepreneurs to mobile network strategists, climate change researchers and education specialists. Meeting all those people helped me to see and understand different perspectives and priorities that organisations are setting. Many of the discussions also challenged how I see and perceive certain topics and provided a lot of food for thought,” said Anna-Laura.
“I met many people working for start-ups, development agencies, and community organisations who were interested in my activities. I had the opportunity to visit other stands of organisations working in the same sector as mine but have other approaches and have many innovative ideas. It made me realise that through my work in the digital sector, I can have an impact in other sectors such as environment and transport,” Arlette concluded.