When women and girls are empowered with technology, the whole world benefits. That’s one key message from the International Day for girls in the field of information and communications technology, or ICT, marked on Thursday.
Celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of April, the Day is an initiative of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and aims to encourage and empower girls and young women to consider entering the growing field of ICT, enabling both girls and technology companies to reap the benefits of greater female participation in the sector.
Recalling the energy and dedication he saw for himself from those taking part in the African Girls Can Code Initiative, earlier this year in Addis Ababa, UN chief António Guterres, tweeted that “such inspiring programmes not only develop skills, they also challenge stereotypes that limit girls’ ambitions and dreams”.
This year, falling on 25 April, and with main celebrations happening in the Ethiopian capital, the day was marked across the world. The UN telecomms agency estimates that within the next 10 years, there could be as many as two million technology jobs that go unfilled due to a lack of digital specialists.
In a video message for the day, the director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, called on girls to “put technology at the core of their career passions”, underlining that advanced digital skills are a strong advantage for students.
Underlining the increasingly important tech component in many career paths - not only in science related jobs - Ms. Bogdan-Martin highlighted technology as a “critical tool in fields as diverse as art history, law, primary teaching and graphic design”.
According to ITU figures, over 357,000 girls and young women have already taken part in more than 11,100 events to celebrate International Girls in ICT Day in 171 countries worldwide, contributing towards bridging the gender digital divide.
Last week, in Geneva, experts also shared avenues for action in an event entitled “Closing the Gender Gap in the Digital World”.