From Cyriacus Nnaji, Lagos
The recent event to celebrate the global campaign, the International Girls in ICT Day, organised by eBusinesslife in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other stakeholders in the industry, has placed more emphasis on grooming more young girls that will take up the challenge of exploring ICT-related careers.
Convener and Publisher of e-Business Life Communication Limited, Mrs. Ufuoma Emuophedaro, aligned with a report by the ITU stating that the ICT sector remains a buoyant and growing sector for employment and a key economic factor which reinforces both national and international development.
According to her, “any professional job we can think of today has a strong tech component. Technology has become a critical tool in fields as diverse as art, history, archaeology, law, primary teaching, to mention but a few. As such, tech qualifications will give an advantage in a competitive job market, earn a high salary and give career mobility.”
While encouraging the students to tap into the future, Mrs Emuophedaro stated: “The future of the ICT sector promises to be an exciting one. It is estimated that within the next 10 years, there will be more than 2 million technology jobs that cannot be filled because of lack of qualified ICT specialists.”
In quoting a statement by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, she said, “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.”
She noted that that given the rising need for software engineers and web developers, and coupled with the projection that advances in gender equality can result in a $12 trillion boost to the global GDP by 2025, it is hardly surprising that the world is making more space for women in STEM.
She applauded female mentors with whose efforts more girls have and will dare to pursue careers in STEM in the near future. “On a global scale, we are heading towards 40% of women in tech positions in the next 5 -10 years.
Let’s hope that in the future years, there will be more and more females in IT and science. We also don’t want companies to hire women because they have to, or because they feel pressured by society. Hire women because it’s worth it!”
Deputy Director, New Media and Information Security at NCC, Mrs. Olatokunbo Oyeleye, in her address, recalled that the ITU on April 8, 2011 announced the establishment of an International Girls in ICT Day to be held yearly on the fourth Thursday in April, which was a direct result of the adoption of its Resolution 70 – “Gender mainstreaming in ITU and promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through Information and Communication Technology (ICT).” The Resolution was to incorporate a gender perspective in the implementation of all ITU programmes and plans.
Mrs. Oyeleye, who represented the NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) Prof. Umar Danbatta cited examples of young girls that broke the gender barrier with exploits in STEM fields, noting: “And they are a proof that breaking gender norm should become the norm.”
He continues: “For gender norms to be broken, there needs to be a deliberate and intentional promotion in the field of STEM in our schools for girls, and this must start at a young age. This is vital when attempting to promote gender diversity within STEM. The STEM industry is crying out for more female talents to balance the gender inequality.”
Prof. Danbatta noted that the NCC had a series of initiatives to promote Child Online Protection (COP) within the nation. Educating children on ways they should keep themselves safe online, and avenues to report if they fall victim. Therefore the NCC invites participants to share their experiences and proffer solutions by sending an email to COP.
Nigeria, being a member state adopts the outcomes of ITU resolutions including Girls in ICT, which is celebrated across the nation.
Since the birth of Girls in ICT Day in 2011, over 377,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 11,400 International Girl in ICT Day celebrations in 171 countries.