In a world where more than 95 per cent of jobs have a digital component, more girls need to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math, the head of the United Nations telecommunications agency urged today, marking “Girls in ICT Day.”
“We need to get more girls involved in information and communications technology,” Hamadoun Touré, the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), told members of the European Parliament in Geneva in a speech about the need to address the growing imbalance in the technology sector.
The event was one of more than 1,300 organized in 100 countries this year to raise awareness about women’s contributions to the technology industry and to promote tech careers to a new generation of girls with an interest in science and math.
Among the events around the world, in the Dominican Republic, el Instituto Dominicano de las Telecomunicaciones (INDOTEL) gathered nearly 400 girls aged 12 to 17 to motivate them to enter into technological careers. A national government policy has been established to create universities and training centres for women in those fields.
In Cairo, Cisco offices invited girls to participate in a real-time connection with other girls in Jordan and Morocco to learn about the uses of communication technology and get them interested in working in these fields.
At the American University of Armenia, approximately 100 schools were connected remotely in a live forum in which school-aged girls can ask questions of senior women role models.
In Kampala, Uganda, girls visited with representatives from top managers in telecommunications companies and power companies who sought to encourage them to apply for such jobs, while high school girls in Nairobi, Kenya, heard from successful women about their paths to professional careers in technology.
Meanwhile, in Suriname, officials worked to introduce computer technology to girls with visual and hearing impairments.
Also this year, ITU’s Special Envoy for Women and Girls, actor and advocate Geena Davis, praised the Day as “important in engaging and inspiring girls to explore careers in technology.”
Since 2010, the “Girls in ICT Day” is observed on the fourth Thursday of April every year to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women through the use of ICTs. It results from a resolution adopted at ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2010.
Under the resolution, ITU pledged to incorporate a gender perspective in the implementation of all its programmes and plans, following which the Global Network of Women in ICT was established.
The network is designed to encourage girls and young women to choose technology careers by providing mentoring resources, high-profile role models and toolkits that help national authorities and organizations promote technology careers to women. It is supported by ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), which, through its Gender Unit, is working on a range of strategies to use ICT to improve the livelihood of women worldwide.