Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can provide women and girls an education and job training, promote literacy, improve access to health care, and enable the exercise of legal rights and participation in government.
In addition, investing in women has a multiplier effect. Women reinvest in their families and communities.
These include; increasing the number of girls and women who want an ICT career; increasing the number of girls and women who receive an education in science, technology, engineering or mathematics; encouraging ICT businesses to attract, recruit, retain and promote women; providing digital literacy training to women at the bottom of the development pyramid, and measuring the gender gap in access to ICT to enable governments and industry to adopt measures to bridge the ICT gender gap.
Recently ITU released global estimates for 2013 on the number of female Internet users, which indicated that 37 per cent of women in the world use the Internet compared with 41 per cent of men.
ITU firmly believes that by accelerating broadband and ICT provision to women and girls, and connecting the remaining 63 per cent of women to the Internet, will promote gender equality, empowerment and social and economic development.
To celebrate Girls in ICT Day on 25 April 2013, governments, private industry, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations are being encouraged to invite girls and university students to spend the day at their offices, or organize shadowing programs with female mentors, to gain a better understanding of the opportunities offered by the ICT sector and to foster the idea that having a career in ICT is good for women and girls, good for business and good for societies.
On 25 April 2013, Brussels will host one of the events, co-organized by the European Commission, the European Parliament and ITU. Key note speakers at the event will include ITU Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré.
As part of the event, the European Parliament will host a debate on Women in ICT, dealing with women in ICT careers and with skills development. A key focus of these discussions will include; the stereotypical portrayal of girls and women in the media; industries responsibility for driving the change in the ICT sector; digital skills; and the business case of getting more women to work in ICT.
Another successful initiative which ITU is championing is the ITU Telecentre.org Women’s Digital Literacy Campaign.
The campaign is a global initiative to help empower disadvantaged and underserved communities of women around the world, with the knowledge of ICTs for personal growth and expanded opportunities for better lives.
The digital literacy campaign has resulted in a total of 567,411 women being trained as of the end of December 2012. The milestone marks the halfway point for the campaign which aims to provide one million women with digital literacy training.
An ITU report titled A bright future in ICT — opportunities for a new generation of women sends an important message to policy-makers, industry leaders, students and young professionals that current developments and trends will result in the next generation of ICT professionals tapping into many opportunities that call for innovative and entrepreneurial minds.
The ITU Girls in ICT portal includes over 500 current programs – which include scholarships, internships, tech camps and various online networks – as well as inspirational profiles of successful women in ICT, to serve as a mechanism to inspire and encourage young girls and women to take up careers in ICT.
ITU invites stakeholders to add their programmes to the Girls in ICT Portal.
By: Brahima Sanou
Mr. Brahima Sanou was elected Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau by the Plenipotentiary Conference, 2010 in Guadalajara, Mexico. He took office on 1 January 2011.