Geneva, 08 April 2011 – ITU welcomes the establishment of an international ‘Girls in ICT Day’, which will be held every year on the fourth Thursday in April, beginning this year.
The new ‘Girls Day’ is the direct result of the adoption of Resolution 70 by ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference in Guadalajara in 2010. The Resolution, ‘Gender mainstreaming in ITU and promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through information and communication technologies’, resolved to incorporate a gender perspective in the implementation of all programmes and plans of ITU, and established the new Global Network of Women in ICT: http://witnet.org/index.php.
The network is designed to encourage girls and young women to choose technology careers by providing mentoring resources, positive, high-profile role models and toolkits that help national authorities and organizations promote technology careers to women. It is being supported and promoted by ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), which, through its Gender Unit, is working on a range of strategies to leverage ICTs to improve the livelihood of women worldwide.
A toolkit designed to provide all the information and resources needed to run a national ‘Girls in ICT Day’ is now available at: http://witnet.org/documents/girlsday-toolkit.pdf. ITU actively encourages its Member States and Sector Members to get involved and organize local, regional and national events designed to showcase ICTs and technology careers to young female students. It also invites Ministries of Education, Ministries of Communications and other government entities to support the initiative by partnering with private sector companies to reach out to young girls through schools, tertiary institutions and in-house mentoring and shadowing programmes.
“This new Girls in ICT Day will provide a much-needed boost to female participation in the ICT sector,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré. “With many countries now forecasting a shortage of skilled ICT professionals within the next ten years, it’s vital that we attract young women into technology if we are to sustain healthy growth rates for the industry overall. With excellent employment opportunities and very good remuneration, a career in technology represents an excellent choice for girls in every country worldwide.”
The initiative was the brainchild of Serbia’s Minister of Telecommunications and Information Society, Ms Jasna Matić, who launched the Global Network of Women in ICT at a special event in New York in February, with the support of Dr Touré, the Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, and a number of high-ranking female dignitaries.
“I am delighted that this joint initiative of ITU and the Serbian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society resulted in the launch of the Global Network of Women Decision Makers in ICT, and attracted the participation and support of global leaders like Michelle Bachelet,” said Minister Matić. “It is especially important that the launch was positioned as one of the highlighted initiatives during the 55th session of the Conference on the Status of Women.”
ITU’s support for the establishment of the Girls Day and for the launch of the Global Network of Women in ICT are among the first activities in a year-long call to action around the theme of ‘Women and Girls in ICT’ endorsed by Resolution 70. Another recent activity was a High-level Panel Debate organized to commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, with the theme of ‘Goodbye to the IT girl? Why are young women deserting technology?’.
A report of this event can be found at: www.itu.int/en/womensday/Pages/default.aspx, and the archived audiocast is available at: www.itu.int/ibs/sg/20110310WomenDay/index.phtml.
The BDT will also be spearheading a number of gender-related initiatives over the course of the year, such as the recent announcement of a new partnership with Telecentre.org to train disadvantaged women in basic use of ICT equipment and applications. “Technology is now widely recognized as a critical enabler of socio-economic development,” said BDT Director Mr Brahima Sanou. “Leveraging the power of ICTs to improve the livelihood of women worldwide has the power to dramatically accelerate progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goal 3 on gender equality by the target date of 2015.”