Updated: Aug 11, 2021
In October 2016 social virtual reality was centre stage at the third annual Facebook Occulus Connect Conference. On July 30, 2021 it was reported by The Conversation that Mark Zuckerberg would like to transition Facebook to a meta verse company - an 'alternative internet universe' populated by avatars enhancing social interactions and business engagement'. The concept of virtual reality and social interactions has been around for some time - and typically the domain of the older male consumer, and very young affluent gamers. The convergence of cutting edge technology and women entrepreneurship are rarely tabled with the emphasis being on what is not possible and why it is not possible. On the African continent the exorbitant cost of data and infrastructure continue to delay access to platforms, and by extension new, simpler more cost effective ways of engaging, connecting, disseminating content and transacting ,
Technology is at the heart of the proposition for connecting women on the African continent faced by the realities of expansive geographic distances, rigid political boundaries, non-integrated logistic networks curtailing travel, and the high costs of inter country transacting and travel. Unfortunately this is not an area that receives sufficient focus or funding or flexibility in approach to problem solving.
in December 2020, Womanomics Africa ™ piloted the utility of gaming technology for essential convening and connections as a delivery portal for TEDxLytteltonWomen. The success of this measured by reach of platform, reduced cost of business development and lead times to deal closing to name a few, resulted in the commissioning of a Virtual Campus which went live in June 2021. This bespoke meta- verse which is the Womanomics Campus ™ (in beta) powered by Virtuworx and developed by the Virtulab, is a world first. It is a 24/7 virtual reality environment that uses gaming technology to connect women entrepreneurs to information and insights, capacity building opportunities as well as a resilient ecosystem all at once dynamically, primarily to facilitate intra-Africa trade. The Campus is also home to a virtual exhibition village, enabling entrepreneurs to showcase their businesses to potential customers, funders, partners etc. cost-effectively.
We were excited to welcome UN Women onto The Campus which saw us hosting and broadcasting a series of events as part of their Generation Equality Forum activations. Here’s what we co-hosted in the last 2 months:
17th June 2021: Virtual Gender Café titled Generation Equality: Using technology and innovation for Gender Equality hosted by UN Women Rwanda. The event was aimed at raising awareness on the digital gender divide, showcase and highlight innovative technological solutions for Gender Equality and how to accelerate efforts to ensure gender equality in an increasingly digitalized world.
28th June 2021: Protecting, Educating, Promoting and Empowering for Generation Equality, 25+1 Years After Beijing, a High-level Generation Equality virtual event co-hosted by the Government of the Republic of Namibia, Embassies of France and Mexico, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women, with the participation of various civil society organisations, reflected on the progress made on gender equality commitments, women and girls’ rights, and sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) in Namibia as well as provided concrete actions to strengthen bodily autonomy and SRHR in Namibia.
28th June 2021: Write to Speak Book Launch, a publication by The Women’s Writes Network, a community of African women who write for rights. The book is a collection of stories told by women from 23 African nations about their individual journeys along some of life’s toughest terrain –social justice and gender equality; of barriers, hurdles, struggles and the proverbial glass ceiling. The launch included 5 of the writers: Fatma Alomrani, Marubini Koka, Rainatou Sow, Mary-Jane Morifi and Chantal Umuhoza. The discussion was facilitated by Amina Oyagbola and included remarks by Amb. Nozipho January-Bardill, founder of the Women's Writes Network.
30th June 2021: Intergenerational Dialogue for an Accelerated Gender Agenda, cohosted by the South African Departments on International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) in partnership with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN). The dialogue brought together a group of select and diverse gender advocates to interrogate intergenerational justice in terms of the responsibility of the proceeding generation in creating opportunities and meaningful pathways for the younger generation to continue the struggle in an equitable and meaningful way. It included Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Anne Githuku- Shongwe, ( UN Women), Ambassador Aurélien Lechevallier, French Ambassador, Dr Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Ms Tumelo Sole, Ms Celeste Diale, Ms Zintle Ramano, Ms Zozibini Tunzi, Ms Shudufadzo Musida, Crowned Miss South Africa 2020. It will look at what opportunities and investments can be created in forging intergenerational justice and accelerating gender agenda.
30th June –2nd July: Broadcasting of the sessions at the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) in Paris. Over a total period of 2 days, those that registered could watch the proceedings in Paris live from the Virtual Campus. Featured sessions included the opening and closing ceremonies, Gender-Based Violence, Leaving no one behind: meaningful inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in building back better, Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action and the Global Launch of The ‘Education Plus’ Joint Initiative – Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women in sub-Saharan Africa. The highlight of the Forum was the Economic Justice and Rights session on the 1st July wherein President Ramphosa led South Africa’s commitments to gender equality under the Economic Justice and Rights Action Coalition.
2nd July – AWDF Grant Making Workshop. The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is a Pan-African) grant-making foundation which supports local, national and regional organisations in Africa working towards women’s empowerment. AWDF funds women's groups across Africa working in the areas of Women’s Human Rights, Political Participation, Peace Building, Health and Reproductive Rights, HIV/AIDS and Economic Empowerment. The workshop highlighted the funding opportunities within the organization and how to access them
8th July – Launch of the Peace Pod, a new podcast on peacebuilding launched by the South African Chapter of the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) Compact on Women, Peace & Security – Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA). As an initiative by the youth for the youth the “PeacePod” invited youth to engage in dialogue over the need for peace for women and children, as part of its concrete, transformative and bold commitments announced in Paris. Topics discussed included Mental Health and its impact on the youth, The Blesser Syndrome, Substance Abuse and Suicide. This also included the launch of the peace song Khulueka by Lady of Peace Community Foundation Youth Peace Desk, featuring Nia and Xavier Steeze.
8th July –Know your NAP - Empowering Women Peacebuilders in the Year of Mme Charlotte Manye-Maxeke, hosted by the Sedibeng District,
19th July – South African Women’s Peace Table, hosted by the Gertrude Shope Women Mediators Network held a virtual South African Women’s Peace Table to discuss women’s role in propelling peacekeeping efforts in South Africa, in the wake of the violence and looting that tore through KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Participants included the Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Struggle stalwart and former member of Parliament Gertrude Shope and the president of the ANC Women’s League, Bathabile Dlamini.
20th July - 23rd July – Rebroadcast of the Generation Equality Forum Paris events, covering some of the key discussions and commitments made. Watch the Opening Ceremony here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O59EDj2z4Y