The United Nations has urged girls and young women to aspire and acquire skills for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as these are not exclusive professions for boys only.
The Director of United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Abuja, Ronald Kayanja, stated this at the 2023 International Girls in ICT Day celebration, organised by UNIC in collaboration with Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.Tec) and Tek Experts, at the UN House, in Abuja.
Mr Kayanja, who was represented by UNIC National Information Officer, Dr Oluseyi Soremekunand, noted that “the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU) had estimated a skills shortfall of over two million jobs in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector within the next five years, there is need for more for the involvement of girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, STEM, fields to bridge the gender digital divide. All you girls and young women must acquire ICT skills to be well-placed for a successful career in the sector. You must change the gender-based stereotypes that society has ascribed to certain professions and careers, especially those in STEM. You can only do this if you aspire and work hard in your studies and develop a passion for ICT,” he noted.
Mr Kayanja, further explained that UNIC and partners are working together to inspire and encourage girls to pursue a future in ICTs and to empower them by ensuring they have the necessary skills, confidence and support to achieve their goals”.
The Country Director, TEK Experts, Mr Gbolahan Olusanya, while explaining the fears of the school girls about STEM and ICT, disclosed that his organisation had trained 500 girls who are all doing well in the sector. “TEK is partnering with the UN to go into the public space to educate women to sensitize the industry and even the nation as a whole. That is what we have done in this industry successfully. Is not difficult, tech is not difficult, is not complicated, and everyone can succeed in the industry. It is not a man’s world. We have over 600 women who are doing it successfully within tech experts today, some of them even come from a non-tech background. It means everyone can do it. That’s why we partner with the UN and that’s why we have come here with some of our colleagues who have gone through the process to talk to young girls and explain to them, and when young girls see mentors, people who have gone through the process successfully they are more encouraged to go into technology or ICT.
He urged the girls to have I can do spirit. “There is nothing to be afraid of in acquiring ICT skills. You can do it. It is not as complicated as you think it is. One thing I tell young women is to have it at the back of their minds, I can do it, I can succeed in the industry, I can make it not difficult. Once you have that I can spirit then that is the bad thing you need to do. I’m also excited about the presentation and Innovation they have done today that is where the creativity starts, those are the things they need to build on. So as long as they have that I can do it mindset, they will always succeed in the industry. Irrespective of your background processes you will always find a place in the tech industry. On the government side they are doing a lot, I see the government partnering with the private sector. Even the private sector needs to do more to support the government, and It is a win-win for everyone, whether with the government or private sector we all need women in the workplace, we all need diversity in the workplace. Both parties are doing but we need more involvement”.
The Chief Executive Officer NextWear Tech Hub, Mr Kemisola Bolarinwa, while stressing the need for ICT Subjects to be incorporated at all levels of learning, charged the school girls to always remember that they are the future of ICT.
“We have the power to shape the future, to create new possibilities, and to transform the world through technology. with these four important digital skills namely: Digital Literacy; Cybersecurity; Coding and Programming: and Digital Communication, by acquiring these skills, we can become more successful in our academic, personal, and professional lives, so embrace the digital age and take advantage of the opportunities it offered”.
Assistant Director of Bilateral and International Relations at the FCT Secondary Education Board (SEB), Mary Ajibola, who appreciated the UN Information Centre and their partners for organising the event and extending an invitation to three of the schools in FCT to participate, disclosed that the management of SEB will not relent in promoting and encouraging girls to pursue their studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Ninety girls from four Secondary Schools and the W.Tec ‘Make Her Space Girls attended the event. They also showcased their inventions.
The International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated every 27th April and the theme for this year’s observance is “Digital Skills for Life.”