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ECA decries low number of women in ICT

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*charges school girls to study ICT

By Gabriel Ewepu

ABUJA- THE Economic Commission for Africa, ECA, has lamented few number of women in the field of Information and communication Technology, therefore charged school girls to study ICT in order to be at par with their male counterparts.

This was stated by Gender Section Director, ECA, Keiso Matashane-Marite, who led the ECA team to the ITU’s Girls in ICT Day held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which organised by the International Telecommunication Union, ITU, United Nations, UN Women, the ECA, African Union Commission, AUC, United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, Ethiotelecomm, Huawei and others.

Matashane-Marite said the ECA, while happy with the increasing number of girls and women using new technologies in Africa, expressed concern over few women and girls using these technologies, and few of them as leaders in science, technology and the innovation space.

ITU’s Girls in ICT Day is a global initiative aimed at raising awareness among girls and young women about the importance of digital skills for a successful professional career in all sectors and encouraging them to consider studies and careers in ICT.

It is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of April and since 2011.

Achieve your dreams in this digital world

She said: “Today is a special day and it belongs to the girls. As ECA we are happy to be highlighting the importance of why girls should be involved in ICT; raising awareness and encouraging our young girls to consider careers in IT. My message to the girls is please embrace ICTs as an enabler to help you achieve your dreams in this digital world of today.

“I’m sure you will help us change this scenario. I can tell you that at the ECA we have just made history with the first woman being appointed as Executive Secretary.

20 years ago it would have been unthinkable, so girls, anything you set your heart on, you can do, you just need to be determined and assertive, ICT is not for men only; it’s for girls too.”

According to her the ECA’s Gender Section ran two side events at the celebrations equipping young girls with social skills and how they can get into ICT careers by overcoming social barriers, real or imagined and other fears.

In her remarks, the UN Women Representative to the Ethiopia, Letty Chiwara, lamented the low number of women who have access to internet services, which on the average across the developing world, which she disclosed the nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the internet, adding that the gender gap reaches nearly 45 percent in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Along with improving women and girls’ educational opportunities, we must change stereotypes or narratives about women in ICT. It is essential to show that ICT is not a masculine profession. We must raise awareness of unconscious bias and ensure educators and employers avoid it.

“We must make sure that technological and digital changes work for women and girls and do not leave them behind. This will require political will and partnerships”, Chiwara stated.

In the main plenary the young girls were inspired by speeches from leading African women who are working in the ICT field at the highest levels. They talked about their careers, barriers encountered, how they conquered and what they envisage for the future.

Hands-on workshops were organised to inspire the local school girls to become ICT creators with the support of experts from ITU, ECA. UN Women, Ethiotelecomm and others.

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