On April 15th, 2014 I had the great pleasure of taking part of Girls in ICT Day at ITU Headquarters in Geneva. Only in its 4th year as a UN recognized International Day, Girls in ICT Day has truly been a global success. With companies, governments and civil society all playing their role in promoting and organizing technology training days for girls, we have seen a coordinated, global push to get young women and girls excited about a future career in ICTs.
As a recent graduate in Communication and Culture, and a Junior Communications Officer Intern at ITU, I am keenly aware of the important role that communication technology plays in each of our lives. It allows us to obtain information at the speed of light. It gives us the ability to communicate across time and space. In a world dominated by information and communication technologies, there is no longer any industry that can function without talented and creative people with technical skills. As ITU’s Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré stated at ITU’s Girls in ICT Day event, “over 95% of all jobs now have a digital component.”
Girls in ICT Day is a time when girls can assess the impact of ICTs on their own lives and gives them the opportunity to reflect on the importance of ICTs to their future careers. It is a day where girls gain hands-on skills in ICT development, and realize that coding, blogging, or app development is a fun and creative way to make a difference in the digital world.
For Girls in ICT Day 2014 at ITU Headquarters, we organized fun and interactive workshops to give local school-age girls the chance to learn about different aspects of ICT related fields. Girls participated in Coding Camp, led by Google software engineers, Mirjam Wattenhofer and Regina O’Dell.We also had Cheryl D. Miller from the Digital Leadership Institute teach skills in Digital Music Making. In addition, Lilian Marin from ITU’s Information Service, ran an awesome workshop on Mobile App Development. I had great fun leading a Photo Blogging Workshop, with the help of Rajani Vepa, our resident expert Web Developer, and Anna Polomska and Carla Licciardello, who presented ITU’s initiatives for online safety for youth. All together, the day’s activities gave almost 100 attending girls a taste of the exciting opportunities that ICT related fields can hold.
For me, that is what Girls in ICT Day is all about!
In my experience working as a social media coordinator for a national youth education organization in Canada, I have seen the value of having ICT skills and how they can connect and empower today’s young people. I often asked youth for their perspectives about the Internet and the potential it holds for them. For some, they saw negative images perpetuated online and increased concerns about safety and security. However, many of my students realized the power in being able to create their own narratives online, and the future it holds for their careers. With skills such as website coding or blogging, it means that they will possess the technical skills to not simply and passively consume the information and messages on the internet, but actively create the content they want to see.
Girls in ICT Day embraces the very important notion that technology empowers all us, men and women alike. It also encourages young women to take their place in the digital economy, as equal partners in the building and shaping of our digital world.
Highlight Video of Girls in ICT Day at ITU
By Theadora Mills
Theadora Mills is a Junior Communications Officer Intern at ITU. She is graduating with her M.A. from the York and Ryerson University Joint Graduate Program in Communication and Culture in June 2014. She has worked as an international English teacher in Taipei, Taiwan and in Bangkok, Thailand. More recently, she has been working with social media and online engagement for the non-profit sector, including the social media coordinator for Journalists for Human Rights and the Communications and Digital Marketing Coordinator at the Canadian Centre for Diversity, where she worked with youth participants to curate the Peer Leaders Network Blog. She was born in Ottawa, Canada and attended Wilfrid Laurier University in Kitchener-Waterloo for her B.A. in Communication Studies and Business.