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Girls in ICT Day

Fatou Diallo

ICT permeates all aspects of life, providing better, newer and quicker ways for people to network, interact, gain access to information, seek help and learn. Apart from its presence everywhere, ICT has an immense economic significance. This year, Girls in ICT Day will celebrate its 10th anniversary on 22nd April 2021. ICT will continue to be a significant part of our future as it connects itself to more and more parts of our lives. It will continue to evolve as we use it for personal growth, wealth, creativity, joy and consumption. 

What is ICT?
ICT or Information Communication Technology is a broader term for Information Technology (IT) which refers to all communication technologies such as the internet, social networking, computers, cell phones, software, wireless networks, video conferencing, middleware, any other media application; and services that allow users to store, transmit, access, retrieve and manipulate information in digital format. ICT also involves media technology convergence such as telephone and computer networks. According to UNESCO, 7 million people work in the ICT sector but only 30% are women. Not only this, only 6% of CEOs at the top 100 global technology companies are women. Women in Europe hold only 11.2% of leadership roles in the tech world. UNESCO shows that a market of up to USD 50-70 billion will open up in the ICT sector if gender equality is achieved. This means more women and girls need to be encouraged to go into ICT.

Why should girls go into ICT?
To emphasise the importance of ICT, it is crucial for girls to understand the reasons to choose ICT. Girls should go into ICT due to numerous job opportunities in the ICT sectors. It is a sector that gives room for a wide range of ICT talents due to the number of job seekers possessing the required technical skills and the digital skills needed by employers. Girls who are highly qualified in technical fields have a notable number of opportunities available to them. It is clear that the ICT sector is male-dominated especially at senior levels hence organisations are working towards increasing the number of girls because when there are more girls at the top, financial performance is positively impacted.

By going into ICT and supporting the education of women and girls in ICT, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is being supported; particularly to achieve gender equality (SG5) and empower all women and girls. Jobs in the tech sector not only lift girls out of poverty but creates a gender-balanced sector that provides more fulfilment at the mid and high level of their careers. It is proven that technology is recognised as the language of the future thus a background in technology enables girls and women to have a role in developing the future. It is not just restricted to engineers but technology cuts across various backgrounds from professions like: health, economics, philosophy production which broadens its applicability.

How to encourage girls to go into ICT
The creation of events designed specifically to inspire girls to pursue ICT professional careers should encourage girls into their dream ICT fields.  While learning girls should be exposed and involved in a fusion of classroom learning where they can get hands-on experiences, interact with other women and girls in the ICT sector to assure them of the opportunities available. Teachers must therefore play an important role, taking girls on a journey through the digital world for them to understand all the aspects of the sector. This enables girls to replicate these experiences in real life such as creating vlogs, films, games, etc. One other way of encouraging girls into ICT is to create school clubs designed to engage girls actively in IT and these will allow them to develop tech skills by partaking in challenges specifically tailored to their interests such as dance, sports, mode and music. The latter will have a great impact on their confidence and self-esteem. Finally, girls need to be exposed to ICT education as early as elementary school in order to sustain interest into adulthood bearing in mind other factors.

To conclude, we must bridge the gender equality gap as per UNESCO findings, by encouraging girls into ICT. Technology is the future, and girls must have an active involvement in that future.