Are Girls in Information Communications Technology (ICT)? What can girls do in ICT? Nigeria and its people will be celebrating the annual Girls in ICT Day which comes up this year on April 25, 2013. What are the issues and why is this day so important? Working with an organization involved in ICT education and career development (Jidaw Systems) for several years, I celebrate the achievements of young female Jidaw alumni developing careers in ICT.
Of notable mention are Fadele Ifeoluwa Oluwatobiloba, Winner of the 2010 IT Professionalism Award, Mrs Funmilola Omojola ICT Coordinator, Grace Schools, Lagos, Ruth Anok, University Lecturer in ICT and Ajayi Oluwadolapo Anuoluwa, scorer of 1,000 perfect score in the globally recognized Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification exam. Their enthusiasm and high level of professionalism shone throughout their studies. We pray that they will rewrite and redefine the face of IT in Nigeria. Many more female Jidaw alumni are making serious impact in ICT and those mentioned here serve as points of reference for the purpose of this discourse.
However, Girls in ICT Day has become a necessity because the overall picture of girls and women in ICT is not so bright, The low proportion of women investing in professional ICT learning programmes is challenging. The numbers are poor in both in formal education in tertiary institutions and in education outside the formal scene in the training and certification arena. Girls and women are simply not choosing professions within ICT. A recent survey conducted at our training institution over a 6 month period showed that the percentage of women that enrolled for IT Training and certification courses was less than 6% of total enrolment. ICT entrepreneurs and professionals need to have a solid foundation in ICT education. It is a knowledge industry and key participants must develop the knowledge and skills required to create opportunities and solve problems with ICT. The fact that fewer women are investing in professional ICT education is a major reason responsible for the low number of women entering the ICT profession.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) annually invites stakeholders with interest in Girls/Women in ICT to mark the day to focus on the necessity of having more girls and young women join the ICT sector. The union declared the fourth Thursday of April every year as a day of encouragement to girls and young women to consider careers in ICT and to remind society to support them in their choice.
The weak presence of women in ICT is bound to continue unless steps are taken to educate, support and encourage girls. From childhood, schools and homes should discard the current misleading male stereotyping. Teachers and parents in particular should be in front encouraging the presence of women in ICT. Girls can have satisfying careers in ICT. Gender stereotypes, which are present in homes and in educational institutions, need to be addressed. The culture is there but critical influencers must be better informed. Career guidance and counseling of girls shows the true picture of ICT by accurately highlighting the wide range of opportunities and skills required. There are opportunities for those interested in technical areas as well as non technical stuff requiring people management, initiative, problem solving, communication, team work, presentation, entrepreneurial skills and much more.
ITU suggests different types of events are suggested, with the actual choice and scale of activity or event left to each stakeholder. No funding is provided, and so stakeholders essentially do what they can afford. ITU however recognizes such efforts through its publications and online resources.
Jidaw believes that these events and other interventions should facilitate the creation of Gender sensitive work environment in the tech industry, the development of Mentoring opportunities , the creation of Women in ICT Networks as well as the development of Women in ICT policy initiatives.
Visibility on social media and reach out:
Twitter: @ITU and #GirlsinICT
All stories are curated on Storify: http://storify.com/ITU/girls-in-ict-day-2013
We can make a Difference
In Nigeria, Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN) will be organizing a one-day conference themed: Women and Girls in Technology - Expanding Horizons, while reports also indicate that e-Business Life Communication will celebrate the day in Lagos on April 25, 2013 and goes with the theme: “Tech Needs Girls to Invent the Future”. Top personalities from Tech industry and outside are expected to speak at these events.
Growth is stunted when girls and women are unable to develop their capabilities, talents and live their dreams. By being in the driving seat of the digital age girls can fulfill potential with ICT careers. Communities and societies need their ideas and contributions to be more competitive. Exclusion and discrimination wastes the important contributions of girls and women. It’s not just about NGOs, big names and high visibility events alone. It's also about what we do in our everyday lives. We can make a difference with our actions and attitudes.
Everyone - people, NGOs, private sector, governments - needs to know that the empowerment of women is in their best interest. Encourage more women to participate in ICT educational programmes and pursue ICT careers. Celebrate and Highlight the achievements of girls and women in ICT
The empowerment of girls in ICT is too important to be left alone to government ministries and GET INVOLVED!! Let everyday be Girls in ICT day!
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