The Girl-child in Nigeria now has fresh impetus to cheer going by the growing opportunities that would be opened to her in the ICTs domain. This cheery news was the high point of the “International Girls in ICT Day 2017” organised by eBusiness Life magazine and hosted at the Oriental Hotel, Lekki, Lagos on Tuesday, June 13.
In tandem with the conference theme: ‘expanding horizons, changing attitude’, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu and other speakers at the event said that the girl-child must take keener interests in the study of ICTs related courses to qualify for the highbrow job opportunities that pervade the ICTs laden environment.
Conveying the position of the federal government to the stakeholders and female students of some select Secondary Schools, Shittu said that “Ministry of Communication is working with other IT stakeholders to develop and implement actions and projects that use ICTs for the economic and social empowerment of women and girls, as well as in increasing awareness of the links between gender issues and ICTs. Government is complying with ITU in this regard by mainstreaming Gender in ICT Policy development and implementation.”
He said that ICT has an empowering effect in girls and young women by helping them overcome the physical, cultural and social barriers that may prevent them from accessing opportunities. The Minister told the gathering that ICT can also help advance gender equality and women’s rights by giving girls and young women a way to share their voices and providing them with career opportunities.
While reiterating that technology could create large scale opportunities to empower women and girls, he stressed that one of the biggest impediments to progress remains the problem of role models. According to him, “inspiring girls with role models is fundamental – we need to kick out the geek image and re-fashion tech as a cool career choice.”
Shittu told the gathering that the Ministry of Communications has the mandate of the Federal Government to promote and facilitate the development of the ICT industry and increase its contribution to GDP. He stressed that this could be made possible “if both genders are given equal opportunities in the ICT sector. Hence the call for all sectors to collaborate with the ministry for a successful implementation of diverse, conducive ways in getting women and girls interested in ICT.”
Representing Vodacom, Adeyinka Adeyemo said that the girl-child would be given ample opportunities to avail their skill sets in the bourgeoning ICTs inspired world if girls would be more competitive. She said that the girl-child must go out to seek knowledge and should be hungry about knowledge by having that extra mile mentality. While emphasizing that success will not just drop effortlessly on the laps of the female folks, she urged the girl child to strive to compete on all fronts and must not relinquish any job to their male counterparts on the basis of gender diversity. Adeyemo concurred with the Minister that girls must get role models that would inspire them to lofty heights.
Also motivating the female students at the conference, Brand Manager, SystemSpec, Jetty Olafimihan, enjoined the female students to seek friendship with other girls in the technology ecosystem. She urged them to also belong to networks that operate within the technology and ICTs frameworks in order to enjoy fresh perspectives and get to update their knowledge of the industry regularly. She urged the girls to always aspire for the plum positions by being a doer and dreamer of purpose.
Augusto of ReadMana told the girls that everything in the world today revolves around ICTs. She said that with the import of that reality in today’s world, computer studies must no longer be made an optional course in Secondary Schools.
Convener Girls in ICT and publisher E-Business Life, Ufuoma Emuophedaro said that ICT has become inseparable from human existence. And in consonance with this stark reality, it is imperative that girls should have increased passion for ICT related courses. She told the audience, mostly female students that “ICT is one of the fastest growing job sectors and one of the best paying.”
She echo the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, who once said that “Tech is too important to be left to men alone! Every week I meet more and more inspiring women in tech. ICT is no longer for the geeky few – it is cool, and it is the future.”