One of the realities the COVID-19 pandemic forced on the human community is physical distancing. While this left much to be desired, information and communication technologies (ICT) proved invaluable during this period, helping us to maintain some semblance of normalcy, stay in touch with others, and to keep vital services and businesses going.
Even with this, almost half the world is still offline and most of those who lack access to digital technology are women and girls in developing countries according to the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The most recent figures from ITU reveal that there’s a 17% gender gap in internet users globally. As this gap keeps growing, so will gender inequality which is already preventing women and girls a chance to access education, pursue lucrative careers and launch new businesses. Hence, the International Girls in ICT Day aims to incite a global movement to increase the representation of girls and women in technology.
Held annually every fourth Thursday of April, the International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated to promote technology career opportunities for girls and women in the world’s fastest-growing industry. Today marks the tenth year of this event that is commemorated worldwide in honor of girls in ICT.
International Girls in ICT Day- Connected Girls, Creating Brighter Futures
In addition to reminding the world that ICT can improve the lives of people everywhere through quality health care systems, improved environmental management, advanced communications, and better educational systems that redefine children and adult learning, this special day encourages governments, NGOs, and the private sector to find ways to equip girls and young women with the skills they need to become ICT professionals.
Going by ITU’s estimate of skills shortfall of over two million jobs in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, it becomes even more imperative to expose girls and young women to tech.
The agency also asserts that females who know coding, apps development, and computer science will be well-positioned for a successful career in the ICT sector. What’s more, ICT skills are increasingly becoming an advantage for students in just about any other field of study.
Emphasizing the need to have more females in ICT, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau said, “Empowering girls to choose a career in ICTs is not just good for girls and their families, it can be a major accelerator of socio-economic development at the national level.”
With more support towards education and skills training, the International Girls in ICT Day is a clarion call for all to empower more girls and young women to actively pursue careers in STEM, bridging the gender digital divide. It also celebrates the efforts of institutions and organizations that have launched initiatives to address the gender digital divide across the globe.
The following comments illustrate how necessary it is to equip more girls with digital skills that will, in effect, prepare them for the future.
“Before camp, I had no clue about computer science. That’s why I chose medicine,” said Selamawit Haile, a secondary school graduate who participated in a two-week coding program in Ethiopia organized by the African Girls Can Code Initiative.
Similarly, 10-year old Greatness Olatunbi, a primary 4 pupil who recently completed a coding program organized by TechAmaka, a Women@godo initiative had this to say: “I will love to create more games using scratch. I enjoyed using a system by myself.”
What stands out from the experiences of these young females is that exposing girls to ICT in their formative years can, to a large extent, shape and influence their decision to pursue a career in technology.
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