Recently over 170 countries celebrated the ‘Girls in ICT Day’, an international day observed by the United Nations to help bridge the gender digital divide. Girls in ICT Day is celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday in April. Since it was established in 2010, the event has generated over 11 000 events in 171 countries, reaching more than 350 000 young women.
Safaricom Alpha observed this day by partnering with Under The Microscope, a science blog that promotes creation of Science Content in Africa, and Zerone, a tech firm dedicated to solving problems affecting the masses while working towards the SDGs, to host over 100 girls from local schools and leaders from government, private sector to celebrate.
“Girls in ICT Day is a call to action to inspire the next generation of girls and young women to learn more about the exciting world of tech,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “As the head of the lead UN agency for ICTs and an International Gender Champion, I am committed to pressing for progress for gender equality inside and outside ITU. Not only is gender equality key to ensuring that no one is left behind, it is an essential element to the success of every single one of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The day was kicked off through a panel session moderated by Dr. Kagonya Awori and featuring: Laura Chite, CEO, CIO East Africa, Brian Afande, Managing Director, Black Rhino VR, Catherine Muraga CIO Sidian Bank, Martin Ndeto CEO KDuka and Elizabeth Ndunge Benson an ICT lecturer, the panelists all pointed out the fact that digital skills give qualified girls an edge in a competitive job market, provide a higher salary and enhance career mobility.
“Learning tech skills at a young age will set girls up for economic independence,” said Laura Chite. “The technology world is not only a man’s world! You can do it, bring the spring back into the tech space,” she added.
ITU estimates that within the next 10 years, there will be more than two million technology jobs that cannot be filled because of a lack of digital specialists. Girls and young women who learn coding, app development and computer science will not only be well-placed for a successful career in the ICT sector; advanced digital skills are rapidly becoming a strong advantage for students in almost any other field they might choose to pursue.