This year’s International Girls in ICT Day, which falls on April 23, was celebrated virtually via webinars due to the discouragement of social gatherings brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The day which falls on the fourth Thursday of every month of April, is marked annually as an initiative to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies.
The celebration dubbed “24th World Tour of Girls in ICT Day Celebrations Highlights” featured some of the virtual celebrations taking place all over the world during the Day.
This year’s theme: ‘Inspiring the Next Generation’, highlighted the importance of governments' engagement in empowering women through technology and will also draw attention to role models and mentors and how they can inspire girls and young women to take up careers in the tech field.
According to International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the sector has a pressing need for a wide range of ICT talents available to them. However, not enough students are prepared for studying math, engineering, computing, and sciences in higher education. Consequently, the number of female technical students is disproportionately low.
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“There is a growing gap between the digital skills needed by employers and the number of jobseekers with the required technical know-how. This means that highly qualified women in technical fields will have a significant number opportunities,” ITU said on its website.
According to the United Nations, Supporting the education of women and girls in the ICTs is also in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 5, which is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls through, among other domains, ICTs. Not only do jobs in the tech sector lift women out of poverty; but also a more gender-balanced sector offers fulfilling mid- and high-level careers, and enables highly talented women to springboard to the top of the career ladder.
"Gender equality is a human rights issue, but it is also in all our interests: men and boys, women and girls. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms us all. There is overwhelming evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies and countries. Women's participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous… Gender equality is the unfinished business of our time". UN Secretary General António Guterres said
This year, organizations and companies such as Mastercard have continued to introduced a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum through a suite of new online, creative educational resources. The programme has been designed to help parents and teachers engage and inspire kids from ages eight to 12.
This means that teachers and parents can now download lessons to help students learn about STEM topics from the comfort of their homes. These activities are built on global science and maths standards – and incorporate technology and innovation – to enable children discover a range of STEM careers, such as Fraud Detective, Data Scientist and Software Engineer. In 2019, Girls in ICT Day events reached an estimated 20,000.
However, as many schools are now closed due to the covid-19 pandemic, not many students can take virtual classes, especially in Kenya and Africa where there is a huge gap in the access to technology. Most pupils and students, especially girls, are still missing out on learning because of the digital divide.