UNECA, ITU celebrate Int’l Girls in ICT Day to bridge the digital gender divide

UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional Office in Addis Ababa celebrate the annual International Girls in ICT day under the theme “Digital Skills for Life”.
The event which is held every year on the fourth Thursday of April, this year’s took place on April 27, 2023.
The event which aims to inspire and encourage girls to pursue careers in science, engineering, technology, mathematics (STEAM), and other fields and engage effectively in the digital sector brought together different stakeholders including mentors, young women and girls to exchange their experiences and share knowledge around digital skills for life and address different topics related to digital skills such as mentorship, education, youth engagement to inspire girls to engage and participate in the ICT field, pursue careers related to digital technologies, develop and strengthen their digital skills, and actively engage in the local digital ecosystem.
“The information and communications technology sector plays a pivotal role in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment as stipulated in the United Nations sustained development goal. At ECA we are committed to the goal of equal access for young women and girls to opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Here, I’d like to applaud the government of Ethiopia for its efforts in centre stage in education in stems as part of the structural transformation agenda by sending very clear policy signals, by providing incentives for students to pursue education in science and technology, engineering and mathematics that’s critical for Africans to go up the value chain and which is critical for Africa to claim agenda 2030 and agenda 2063,” said Antonio Pedro, Executive Secretary of ECA.

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

As digital technologies are an essential pathway to gender equality and empowerment, it has become increasingly important to engage girls and young women more closely in the digital transformation process. According to ITU, globally, the percentage of females and males using the internet is 63 percent and 69 percent respectively, and in Africa, the percentage of females and males using the internet is 34 percent and 45 percent respectively.
Around 90 per cent of adolescent girls and young women do not use the internet in low-income countries, while their male peers are twice as likely to be online, according to a new UNICEF analysis issued on International Day of Girls in ICT.
“The theme for the Girls in ICT Day celebrations this year “Digital Skills for Life”, digital skills remain a key component for girls and young women to engage in the digital ecosystem. The ITU is committed to building and strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships to equip young girls, women and youth with digital skills to bridge the digital gender divide,” said Anne-Rachel Inné , ITU Regional Director for Africa whilst speaking on the event, adding, “I encourage all the girls and young women to develop and strengthen their digital skills, within their schools and beyond, through the local communities and actively engage in the digital ecosystems as we strive to bridge the digital gender divide.”
Alternative educational and training options to acquire digital skills such as boot camps and incubators have been emerging globally, and in 2020, the ECA in collaboration with ITU and UN Women launched the ‘Connected African Girls’ coding camp initiative in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to bridge the gap and advance ICT skills across the continent.

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