Monday, March 24, 2014

Advancing Nigerian Women in Information Technology

Focused groups and associations play a major role in overcoming the challenges faced by girls and women in Information Technology and related male dominated fields. One such body is NIWIIT (Nigerian Women In Information Technology), an interest group of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS). NCS is Nigeria’s foremost Information Technology (IT) network with membership strength of Over 10,000, comprising IT Professionals, Interest groups and Stakeholders having footprints in Business, Government and Academia. NCS is the national platform advancing Information Technology Research, Practice and Innovation in Nigeria.

Still relatively young, NIWIIT was established in July 2012 when the national executive was inaugurated by the then NCS President, Sir Demola Aladekomo during the NCS Conference at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria. Dr Adeola Ilechukwu emerged as the President of NIWIIT. Interestingly, it was while Dr Ilechukwu was 2nd Vice President of NCS that she took up the challenge to facilitate the inauguration of this interest group in NCS.

In addition to Dr. Ilechukwu, the NIWIIT national executive expectedly comprises of those who had shown proven commitment to women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Math (STEM). 

NIWIIT National Executive at NCS Conference in Osun State

Induction of new members took place at the 2013 NCS Conference at Iloko-Ijesa, Osun state of Nigeria. Members were inducted in different categories of Professional Members, Non Professional Members and students. NIWIIT has become an increasingly diverse and growing network with members in various fields in industry, research and education. The interest group also has chapters in Imo, Enugu, Lagos, Abuja, Kogi, Ogun, Abia (although some are yet to be inaugurated).

Activities NIWIIT has carried out so far include: Awareness creation in states, Mobilization of women in IT, Inauguration of chapters and induction of members. Innformation from NIWIIT states that “This interest group has an imperative to empower and encourage women working in the field of Information and Communication Technologies. NIWIIT will work with government, interest groups and other stakeholders to achieve objectives for women in IT in unique and innovative ways. Events and activities will recognize the impact of women in ICT, while promoting the advancement of women in ICTs. NIWIIT is focused on increasing the active participation and contribution at all levels in the IT industry.”

It is expected that the group has well thought out, future plans and projects to fulfill its mandate. If NIWIIT is to become one of the top recognized organizations advancing the cause of women and girls in IT in Nigeria, it must address issues relating to capacity building, while facilitating the contribution of women and girls in the nation’s technological development. It should embrace purposeful networking - to exchange ideas, share experiences, highlight success stories, monitor progress, collaborate, mentor and build capacities. 

Women in ICT blog wishes NIWIIT well!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What are your plans for the 2014 Girls in ICT Day?

What are your plans for the 2014 Girls in ICT Day? Girls in ICT day is a day to provide information and inspiration to help girls and women grow in the dynamic and challenging information and communication technology (ICT) sector. Jidaw notes that it's about revealing the exciting multi-disciplinary ICT career opportunities for tech professionals, entrepreneurs and innovators to more young women and girls. This year’s Girls in ICT Day will be celebrated on 24 April 2014. 

ICT enabled innovation has changed the world and is the tool of opportunity. 2014, year of innovation, but what role do women play in this driver of change? This role deserves more attention. Jidaw asks: How can we help girls who have an interest in ICT? The ICT sphere is still one that is largely male dominated and a lot still needs to be done to raise awareness and inspire girls and women pursue technology careers in significant numbers.

Girls and Women in ICT in significant numbers
Backed by ITU Member States in ITU Plenipotentiary Conference Resolution 70 (Guadalajara, 2010) Girls in ICT Day is organized annually to raise issues about girls and young women in ICT. ICT is the infrastructure of the knowledge society. Activities in particular include encouraging girls and women to consider the career and entrepreneurship opportunities that abound in this sector. Jidaw is a programme contributor on the ITU Girls in ICT Project, and raising awareness to young girls and women about the importance of joining the ICT sector and organizing such events are in line with Jidaw’s vision. Jidaw is committed to this worthy cause. The demand for people with ICT knowledge and skills is huge. Why aren’t more women seizing the opportunities and living their dreams in this thriving sector? ICT career and entrepreneurship opportunities abound for talented and skilled women. So how will the gap be bridged? 

Women at the Center of Development
We must understand what more girls and women in ICT really means. Women must have the opportunity to live their dreams and write their own stories. And in the digital economy ICT must be in the picture. Without empowering girls and young women their communities lose their ideas and potential contributions. The role of women and girls in technology is critical; not just as consumers but as creators, providers and contributors. Technology empowers women, girls economically and socially. Women must be at the center of development. The empowerment of women is essential to economic prosperity and inclusive, resilient and sustainable development. The world needs their creativity and leadership qualities. There can be no development without combining the strengths of women with the strengths of men. For the forward looking nations, women are a source of strength and opportunity. 

So how will you celebrate the 2014 Girls in ICT Day? 
What will you and your organization do to foster knowledge sharing and bring attention to this critical area? I urge you to join Jidaw and other progressive individuals and organizations to acquaint girls and young women with digital opportunities and related careers. Create awareness on the important role technology can play in empowering women to meet their goals and aspirations and in eliminating gender inequalities. Be part of the advancement and empowerment of Women and Girls in ICT. 

Having more girls and young women join the ICT sector, especially in the high value areas is a necessity not a luxury. It is about creating a better future for them and for their communities. Jidaw looks forward to great and successful celebrations on and around 24 April 2014 – let’s reach even more girls and young women. 

Jide Awe

Founder, Jidaw

Nigeria Computer Society

Nigeria Computer Society
- promoting change and development for all