TikTok to promote online safety for women with the Web Foundation

Over the last year, alongside others in the tech industry and representatives from civil society, TikTok have collaborated with the Web Foundation, an international organization advocating for digital equality, to better understand the experiences that women have online and how to make them safer. As a result, they are proud to announce the commitment to address two priorities women have said are critical for their online safety: improved reporting systems and more control over their online experiences.

Over the coming months, TikTok will begin to develop and test a number of potential product changes to their platform that address these priorities and help make TikTok an ever safer place for women.

TikTok, work round the clock to help ensure our platform is a safe, positive space for self-expression. Our platform thrives on the diversity of our community, and we believe that safety is a prerequisite for creativity. Everything we do is about fostering an environment where people feel welcomed, empowered, and safe to express themselves exactly as they are.

Their online safety strategy has multiple aspects. Enforce the Community Guidelines using both technology and thousands of safety professionals around the world. They also develop pioneering safety policies and features, and partner with external safety experts to keep abreast of complex and constantly evolving challenges.

While TikTok continue to invest in cutting-edge technologies and industry-leading safety teams, they also work to ensure their community feels in control of their TikTok experience. Here are just a few examples on how to stay safe on TikTok:

  • In control of comments: Their community can restrict who comments on their videos to no one, just friends or everyone (for those aged under 16, they don’t offer the Everyone setting). Users can choose to filter all comments, so they can decide which comments will appear on their videos. When enabled, comments aren’t displayed unless the video’s creator approves them using the new comment management tool. People can also choose to filter comments containing specific keywords they have selected. Multiple comments can be deleted or reported at once, and accounts that post bullying or other negative comments can be blocked in bulk, too, up to 100 at a time. By default, spam and offensive comments are hidden from users when we detect them.
  • Promote kindness: A prompt asks people to reconsider the impact of their words before posting a comment that may be inappropriate or unkind and reminds users to review our Community Guidelines.
  • Report inappropriate content and behavior: Reporting is fast, easy and confidential on TikTok. If a user sees something – whether it’s a video, a comment, a direct message or an account – they don’t think should be on TikTok, they can use the in-app reporting button to let us know. We will review against our Community Guidelines and take appropriate action.

In addition to investing in technology to keep their community safe, TikTok work to provide resources to their community on important issues like sexual assault. During Sexual Assault Awareness Month they partnered with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) to support the important conversations occurring on the platform about sexual violence and connect their community with permanent resources and educational content within the app. Their goal at TikTok is to foster an inclusive space for everyone, including survivors.

“We look forward to sharing more on our progress to deliver on our commitment to improve online safety for women in the coming months”, said TikTok team.

www.tiktok.com

African Management Institute and Rwanda ICT Chamber offer business training to 2,000 tech entrepreneurs

The African Management Institute (AMI) and the Rwanda ICT Chamber have signed a one-year agreement to provide business training to entrepreneurs in the ICT sector to reinforce their skills and boost women’s participation in the sector. The partnership aims to reach more than 2,000 i-workers (i.e. internet workers who include digital services agents, freelancers, digital ambassadors and gig/platform workers). This is geared to help small businesses tackle the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and equip them with the skills, tools and strategies to manage risk and identify new opportunities for growth.

The African Management Institute will offer its sponsored virtual Business Survival Bootcamp in English and Kinyarwanda to tech entrepreneurs across the country and enable them to access AMI’s online learning platform. Through the programme, entrepreneurs learn about risk assessment, scenario planning, cash flow forecasting and other skills to support their business to grow and thrive.

To date, 114 entrepreneurs have already benefited from AMI’s sponsored programme in partnership with the ICT Chamber and completed AMI’s Business Survival Bootcamp programme. Members of the ICT Chamber are encouraged to apply directly through bit.ly/AMI-ICT.

Yvette Uwimpaye, founder of the online store Murukali Market Smart, is looking forward to the upcoming training:

“The pandemic affected my business both positively and negatively. We had more customers ordering online, however they were buying fresh products such as perishable food. It was hard to keep up with the demand due to movement restrictions. This impacted our operations and caused us to lose customers and revenue. I’m excited to take part in the Business Survival Bootcamp because I want to recover losses and make my e-commerce business more profitable,” she said.

AMI Country Director, Malik Shaffy, commented:

“This partnership is unique because it will also increase the number of women thriving in Rwanda’s digital economy. As we boost women’s participation in our programmes, I encourage all tech entrepreneurs to visit our website and apply for the Business Survival Bootcamp to gain the skills and network that will help your business to grow.”

Rwanda ICT Chamber CEO, Alex Ntare, shared how the sector will benefit from the partnership:

“ Over the years we have seen a growing number of  women owned or co-founded technology and ICT enabled businesses,  this partnership with AMI has already raised interest among our members especially those participating in the IHUZO digital commerce project, the content in the programmes is very relevant to all sizes of businesses especially those affected by COVID-19 and who want to digitalize”

About the African Management Institute (AMI)

AMI enables ambitious businesses across Africa to thrive, through practical tools and training. We equip entrepreneurs with tools to build their businesses, help companies train their teams and run work readiness programmes for young people starting their careers. AMI’s programmes combine online and mobile tools with in-person workshops and on-the-job practice and support. During the COVID-19 period, AMI is delivering fully virtual programming across the continent.

AMI has worked with a range of businesses and organizations to support entrepreneurs and managers build and grow their businesses across Africa including Uber, Nestle, Radisson Blu, Mastercard Foundation, USAID, Shell Foundation and Equity Bank. AMI has directly trained over 30,000 people in over 30 countries. AMI has offices in Nairobi, Kigali and Johannesburg. 

About the Rwanda ICT Chamber

Rwanda ICT Chamber is an arm of the Private Sector Federation (PSF) of Rwanda and was established in 2011. The ICT Chamber is the leading partner for organizations to share experience, network, grow, and expand their operations. At the ICT Chamber, we help our members to work with the right associations, companies, and individuals to ensure that they get the needed skills, opportunities, and tools to grow.

The main vision of Rwanda ICT Chamber is to make Rwanda the leading ICT-driven society by influencing the transformation of the economy and the culture through ICT. This is accomplished by creating career paths through skills development, especially among the youth, stimulating entrepreneurship and competitiveness, driving and protecting investments and innovation, promoting export of ICT products and services together with acting as the arbitrator of the ICT sector. 

www.africanmanagers.org

Gender inequality is meeting Artificial Intelligence in today’s tech-applications

For women, hurdles are everywhere. Despite the critical role women play in societies, unequal access to education, loans, jobs, healthcare, technology, and political discourse are commonplace — and worsened by COVID-19.

Technological innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) promise to identify and close these gaps through claims of a more data-driven, objective approach, but ironically pose another hurdle for women. Often, these digital systems inadvertently carry the same old analog gender biases.

AI Gender Inequity Example

Imagine that you run a small woman-owned business from home. Excited by its early success, you apply for a loan to hire staff and get more space. But you’re soon dejected — every bank approved you for a smaller loan than requested, while a friend got his loan request approved in full. You’re surprised — he has similar assets and savings as you. The only obvious difference is that you’re a woman.

You learn that your credit application was evaluated not by a person, but by a machine. Banks use AI technology to assign a creditworthiness score to applicants. Using a machine learning algorithm, the tool ‘learns’ patterns of behavior associated with higher creditworthiness based on previous applicants’ data and their associated repayment.

Historically more men received loans than women, so the algorithm determined that men were more creditworthy. Although banks turned to AI to be more objective and equitable in lending, the results were actually the opposite.

Gender Inequity in Artificial Intelligence

This is not a hypothetical example — there are now-famous instances of the unintentional consequences of AI, such as automated resume screeners rejecting women, facial recognition disproportionately failing for women, and algorithmic credit-scorers ranking women lower than men.

As AI tools are being tested and used in developing economies to derive insights and gain efficiencies across sectors — and as we rely more and more on them to give loans, diagnose diseases, triage medical care, and respond to humanitarian crises — we must work to prevent them from discriminating. There is an opportunity and urgency to optimize for innovative and equitable AI — especially in developing countries.

Development actors are taking steps to address disparities, for example, using AI to close gender-related data gaps in child marriage. Through the WomenConnect Challenge, USAID is beginning to tackle algorithmic gender bias in lending and is committed to taking action on the fair development and use of AI more broadly, working with partners to create a report and online course to better integrate AI fairness in development.

But we know there are many more ways that bias manifests in AI. Complex contributors to these harmful outcomes can include unrepresentative datasets, largely male data science teams, cultural norms around gender, and local policies and practices around data, among many others.

Gender equity is critical to achieving AI fairness, and as we work to build an agenda for action, we want to hear from you. In recognition of Women’s History Month, we want to shine a spotlight on inequitable gender outcomes related to AI in the developing world, and everyone’s help and collaboration is needed.

The development community is committed to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. We must ensure that using AI does not reverse the substantial gains of the past decades. Together, we can raise awareness about gender inequity in AI and take action to change course.

www.usaid.gov

Rwanda farmers receive smartphones to boost new age agriculture

Female leaders of farming cooperatives in Rwanda have been given smartphones to sensitize farmers on agriculture best practices under the #ConnectRwanda initiative.

Farmer promoters and cooperative leaders play an important role in ensuring that best practices in agriculture are followed, hence resulting in better produce. On average, a farmer promoter has access to around 4,000 farmers. With these new smart phones, the beneficiaries will be able to easily access agriculture information and disseminate it to the farmers in their catchment area.

In her remarks, Hon. Paula Ingabire; Minister of ICT and Innovation said: “Agriculture being the backbone of Rwanda’s economy, women are great contributors to the growth of this sector especially in rural areas. In order to reach more development, women in agriculture should be placed at the centre of this transformation. Constituting more than 60% of the Rwandan agricultural work force, it is imperative that technology should not leave them behind in order for Rwanda to achieve great advancement in ensuring food quality and food security. We thank all our partners in this initiative.”

Prof. Jeannette Bayisenge; The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, said “We welcome this partnership between the Government of Rwanda and MTN through which female farmer promoters well given smart phones. These smartphones will help them to remain at the forefront in their agricultural activities and contribute on their families’ welfare.”

Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana; The Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources comments “Female leaders of farming cooperatives need to access information and disseminate to those in their catchment area for effective operations. Now that they are equipped with the smartphones, they will be able to access and share information easily. This will help them to improve their agricultural activities.”

Hon. Gatabazi Jean Marie Vianney; The Minister of Local Government said: “We thank The President of The Republic for always striving for inclusive development. The smartphones you have received are bringing you technology, ensure to maximize their benefits towards a sustainable development.”

“We are glad to continue the Connect Rwanda initiative in partnership with the Ministry of ICT & Innovation, this time specifically focused on women farmers with the aim to empower them and their businesses, as we drive digital for a brighter Rwanda. As we wind down Women’s Month, we continue to recognise the importance women play in our economy and we are confident that these efforts to drive smartphone and internet penetration will make a difference.” – said Mitwa Ng’ambi, MTN Rwanda CEO

#ConnectRwanda Initiative was launched by MTN in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation in December 2019, with the objective of providing smartphones to unconnected households countrywide to leverage the digital economy. The essence of the initiative is for private companies, government institutions and individuals to come together and drive the digital agenda to connect all Rwandans.

www.minict.gov.rw

Women’s month: Reflections from a woman in tech

Over the last year within MTN Rwanda, I have watched several young men and women take on and flourish in new roles across the organization. I am particularly encouraged by some young women in our Technology Department that have grown into senior engineers and formidable managers of teams.

Each time I see them excel, I am reminded of my own journey that led me to the exciting world of technology. I first joined the telecommunications world as a fresh IT graduate, but you would be surprised to learn that this was not always the plan.

Having excelled at Maths and Sciences in High School, I was placed in the school of Natural Science at University, taking courses such as Biology, Physics and Chemistry. The end goal for me was not clear at the time, but I foresaw that I would be a bio-chemical scientist of some sort. As fate would have it though, two months into my studies, the university I was attending closed indefinitely leaving me no choice but to hurriedly apply to another school.

Applying to this new university, I naturally put down Natural Sciences as my first and only academic preference. This was risky because if this stream were fully subscribed, I would have had to opt for whatever other courses were left. Lo and behold, I arrived at the new university only to find the Natural Sciences intake was full and the only other under-subscribed stream was Computer Science.

Unsure about whether technology was “my thing”, I spoke to the department head for advice, whose words I will never forget, “with a training in computer science or technology, you get a degree in ‘versatility’ – you can literally work in any industry”. With that said – my path was set, and I went on to study Computer Science and later a Master’s in Information Technology. So, yes, I am an IT Engineer albeit by accident, and have zero regrets on what has been a most exciting and futuristic path.  

I am an IT Engineer by training, Telecom CEO by profession but also daughter of a very fierce gender equality advocate of a mother. I have thought about her a lot in this month of March when we celebrate women. Ever since I can remember, my mother has held strong beliefs in the boundless capabilities of women.

With words like “Mitwa, you must make something of yourself, for yourself and for others”, she has built me into who I am today. She also believes that one should never make apologies for being the voice representing women as they have historically started a few paces behind in the race to success and thus deserve all the support they can get if we are to achieve a gender equal world.

In 2015, all UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Goals for Development which are an urgent call to action by all countries. Goal 5 is achieving gender equality. It is said that we cannot achieve peace and prosperity now and into the future if this goal is not met.

Gender equality comes with massive implications. According to McKinsey, advancing women’s equality in Africa could add $316 billion or 10% to GDP by 2025.  Further, the World Bank reiterates that boosting female employment and economic diversification can make the difference between a gainful decade and a lost one.

It is well documented that diversity and inclusion make companies more innovative, customer centric and profitable. A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies that have more diverse management teams, have 19% higher revenue due to innovation. This finding is huge for tech companies where innovation is key for growth.

In the telecommunications world, the gender gaps are slowly closing however there is still a lot of work to do. According to the GSMA, in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a 37% gender gap in mobile internet use and women are 8% less likely than men to own a mobile phone.

At MTN Rwanda, we are hyperaware and sensitive to these statistics. We constantly challenge ourselves to find innovative ways to contribute to the closure of this gender gap.

Through the MTN Foundation, we recently launched the second edition of the Connecting Women in Business initiative that seeks out and provides financial support to cooperatives that are formed and led by women.

On my recent visit to Rubavu, it was great to see the positive impact that this support has had on last year’s winners. My heart smiled listening to how Cooperative Twivane Mu Bukene in Cyanzarwe sector, doubled the size of their farmland and thus their product yield on the back of the support they received last year.

Internally, our commitment has been to increase the participation of women in leadership and technical roles. The biggest step in this direction was the establishment of the Women’s Empowerment Network (WeNet) within MTN Rwanda whose mission is to provide a forum for MTN Rwanda’s women to educate, empower and inspire each other.

With WeNet, we have seen the implementation of initiatives that are aimed at preparing women for opportunities within the organization. These initiatives include public speaking trainings, mock interviews, mentoring programs to mention but a few and in only one year, we are already seeing the fruits of these initiatives.

On the softer side, the network, which I too am a part of, is built on the principle that each and every one of us is our sister’s keeper. Sisters keep each other honest, push each other to step out of their comfort zones, and encourage one another to do more and be more. WeNet has only been in existence for a year, but in that time, we have seen more women stepping up to apply for jobs, speaking up and making their views heard.  I am super proud of them all and while we are encouraged by early results, we are only inspired to do more. Diversity and inclusion remain an important pillar of focus at MTN Rwanda.

It is important for us all to keep an eye on the goal of achieving gender equality by 2030. We need to be intentional and specific on the steps we are taking to contribute to attaining this goal. As leaders of organizations – it starts with awareness; how many women do we have in our organizations? Do we know their participation levels at all ranks of the organization? Are we aware of any disparities that exist?

We may not be able to resolve all gaps over night, but awareness is the first step in getting to a gender equal world. I wake up every morning not thinking of myself as a female CEO but simply as a CEO, leading an organization to the best of my ability. I look forward to a world where there is no longer a “first woman to do this” or the “first woman to do that” – but simply a world where there are professionals all living the best versions of themselves.  So yes, this year and for time to come, I #ChooseToChallenge.

mtn.co.rw