The French Development Agency (AFD) is launching the DIRECCT (Digital Response Connecting Citizens) programme to support the education, health and small business sectors in adopting digital practices to limit the impact of pandemics. In this programme conducted with ENABEL, the Belgian cooperation agency, gender mainstreaming is at the heart of these practices.

Since February, Perfégal has been helping digital project leaders to take gender equality into account in their actions.

This is an innovative project. The DIRECCT programme certainly integrates gender equality issues in the digital sector, but above all takes gender into account from the design stage of projects.

“This is an exemplary approach. We were able to guide the partners from the start, at key moments in their project, on the operational side. During the analysis of their needs, for example, or during the evaluation of their digital autonomy skills. We were even able to intervene in the terms of reference. We were able to integrate the production of gender-specific data into the studies and carry out differentiated analyses, where gender is taken into account in the evaluation of needs,” explains Isabelle Gueguen, co-director of the SCOP Perfégal, which specialises in gender equality. The firm has supported 14 project leaders by training them and working with them to draw up a gender action plan.

This upstream consideration of gender equality is indeed necessary, especially in the digital sector.

“In this field, there are inequalities in terms of adoption of usage, access to equipment, and positioning in the management structures of this digital transition. Everywhere we see that men are the first to take up digital tools, mobile phones and everything that can be done with them, to create professional opportunities and expand their networks,” says Gwenaël Prié, head of the digital team at AFD until December 2022.

Getting to grips with digital tools

Each digital project leader, spread over some twenty countries, now has a precise action plan for the actual situation in which they are working. “This work is necessary. There are a multitude of beneficiaries concerned by gender issues. Oxfam, for example, works with economic interest groups (EIGs) that are mainly made up of women. MSEs are part of a social whole and obviously gender is a major issue. Beyond the principle of equality, there is the question of efficiency. Women must be able to appropriate the tools given to them, and must be able to take responsibility for their activities,” explains Éric Mounier, head of communication and capitalisation for the DIRECCT programme.

The place of women in the Fablab

Today, gender equality issues are therefore a major concern not only for AFD but also for the European Union, which is financing this programme. “Some projects were already fully convinced of this need and others had not necessarily thought about it or did not know how to go about it. In the end, everyone got involved with the support of Perfégal,” says Gwenaël Prié of AFD.

This work will lead to the broadcasting of a webinar on the place of women in Fablabs* in March 2023. This online seminar is organized by Perfégal, with the Bretagne Solidaire network and the West African and French Fablab network. The aim of the project, funded by the DIRECCT programme, is to help Fablabs to create prototypes of masks and respirators, via 3D printers, by recycling used plastics. “With the gender approach, we questioned women’s access to the Fablab, women’s access to the proposed activities and the place of women in the sorting and recycling of plastics, which are a raw material for the 3D printers”, explains Isabelle Gueguen, from Perfégal.

* A Fablab is a workshop that provides the public with tools for making objects with computer assistance.

Aurélie Fontaine

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