The Point (Banjul)

Gambian Girls in ICT Day Celebration Equity and Empowerment in ICT Usage

Photo: Amy Costello
As of 2011, women represent 58 percent of national voters (file photo).

International Girls in ICT Day is an initiative backed by ITU Member States in ITU Plenipotentiary Resolution 70 (Guadalajara, 2010) to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies (ICTs). International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated on the 4th Thursday in April every year. This year, it will be celebrated on the 24th of April.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI) as the authority in charge of pushing the nation's overall ICT agenda has identified members of the public and private sector whose input would be highly beneficial in highlighting the strides our country has made thus far in promoting the girls and young women ICT agenda."As this initiative is under our purview, it is important we play our mandated role to spearhead an extensive campaign in empowering our girls and young women in the important role ICT stands to play in their lives. We want to engage them to embrace math and science, in order to be game changers in our sector. As natural managers, women involvement in all sectors of the economy is critical in its success," Said, Madam Nancy Niang, The Permanent Secretary of MOICI.

According to the ITU report, "A Bright Future in ICTs - Opportunities for A New Generation of Women," the ICT sector remains a buoyant and growing sector for employment, and a key economic factor imperative to both local and international development. But the growth in jobs in the ICT domain has seen a lot of women left behind especially at the senior level. Therefore, a lot of work has to be done primarily in universities, research and development centres and trade or 'applied' schools, in order to respond to the ever-evolving needs of the ICT industry.

Khadijah Aja Tambajang, MOICI's Focal Person for Girls in ICT states, "At MOICI, our goal is to place the Girls in ICT issue on the forefront. We would like to demonstrate to girls that ICT can be not only a smart lucrative career path, but a fun fulfilling one.Our celebration of Girls in ICT day is an ongoing one and will not end on the official date itself. We plan on pushing the Girls in ICT agenda via different mechanisms such as, mentorships, education and social awareness campaigns.Girls need to understand the weight in creating technology that works for them and not men-created that sometimes leads to insensitivities. No one knows you like you know yourself."

Government plays a mammoth task in this sphere, by designing policies that promote and encourage girls to embrace ICTs and the public sector comes in play by creating a level playing field for girls to be incorporated into their institutions.

In line of the above, key events have been set aside for the celebration including:

Familarisation Tour of women in ICT at work & study and Local ICT institutions, to show our girls the importance they can play by embracing and specializing in ICTs. Forty female and male students drawn from four schools from Brikama to Kombo on Wednesday, 12th March 2014, joined members of the National Organising Committee on a familiarisation tour of ICT companies and institutions such as, the ACE landing station, Qcell, a mobile operator, Lasting Solutions, RLG Gambia Ltd, the first cell phone and computer assembly plant in The Gambia and Gamtel, our national telephone carrier.

Students from St. Peters, Mahad, Brufut and Glory Baptist Junior Secondary Schools were given the opportunity to see Women in ICT at work and study and local ICT Institutions. The group broke into two, each stopping over an ICT company, or

The successful tour availed the students the opportunity to see things they haven't seen before and to be in an ICT encouraging environment. This interactive initiative will surely inspire many of them to embrace the ICT field. The Students were pleasantly surprised with gifts from RLG and Lasting Solutions.

School Debate: to encourage girls to research the importance of ICT education and development. The debate to be held on 22nd April, 2014 at St. Joseph's Senior Secondary School between St. Joseph's Secondary School and Janjanbureh Secondary School.

As part of engaging our girls, a 'Gambian Girls in ICT' logo design competition will be held, in order to support ICT technical creativity.

Half-day workshop to be held on 23rd April, 2014 at the Kairaba Beach Hotel. The debate will be a platform for all stakeholders and key women to come together and discuss the women ICT issue. Topics of discussion such as, the importance of female involvement in ICTs, the creation of women friendly applications, and the correlations between technology and empowerment will be held.

Cocktail/ Prize Giving Day to be held on 24th April, 2014 at the Ocean Bay Hotel. This event will bring to a close the series of sub activities that led to the official International Girls in ICT day. This event will be both an exhibition and a prize-giving day for winners of the debate and logo design competition.

MOICI's Mission:

To provide an enabling environment that facilitates and promotes the development of a robust, scalable, reliable, available, affordable and accessible modern information and communication infrastructure that breeds an effective and efficient service delivery platform/system through institutionalized planning and systemic structures

Vision:

A Gambia with the requisite infrastructure and enabling policy framework that ensures full connectivity of everyone to ICT services.

For more information, kindly visit our website: www.moici.gov.gm / our facebook page: Girls in ICT Gambia

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