28 Apr 2022 International Girls in ICT Day: Women Africa Advocates for More Girls in ICT
28 April, International Girls in ICT Day, established by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and celebrated in over 150 countries around the world aims to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies (ICTs), enabling both girls and technology companies to reap the benefits of greater female participation in the ICT sector.
The theme for this year is Access and Safety. For girls and young women to thrive in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, they need safe and reliable access to the internet and digital tools.
Nigeria currently ranks very low in the participation of women and girls in the tech sector. In Nigeria, young men are almost twice likely to have a career in computer science and technology-related fields as women. Although this trend is prevalent nationwide, it is worse in the country’s Northern region. Findings also suggest that about 60 percent of the female population in Nigeria do not have access to the internet.
According to a 2018 survey of tech firms conducted by the ONE Campaign and the Center for Global Development, the participation of women in the Nigerian tech sector is very low. Only about 30 percent of Tech Firms were owned by women, mostly concentrated in e-commerce and enterprise solutions. Of the women-owned firms, the median share of ownership is 20 percent. Similarly, Tech firms do not employ many women with —31 firms in the sample survey employing no women at all.
With technology playing a role in all kinds of careers, from art and history to law, primary teaching and graphic design, learning tech skills at a young age will set girls up for economic independence. And, the ICT sector needs more girls and women as the jobs of the future will be driven by technology and innovation, unfortunately, when it comes to the issue of gender in ICT, there is a big gender gap. Some of the challenges that women and girls face in accessing the technological space are lack of knowledge, empowerment and financial support.
Young women and girls are poorly placed to benefit from the tech economy in developing countries. As such they have less access to skills training and development that would enable them to gain employment in the ICT sector.
In order to bridge the digital gap there is a need to empower women and address gender-and class-based barriers to women’s access to digital ICT programmes.
Governments across sub-saharan Africa and indeed the African continent must also invest more in research on digital ICTs programmes and how it contributes to women’s mobilisation around particular issues that concerns them to ensure effective advocacy on their project views and interests that can influence decision-makers.
When adequate information or knowledge and support on the subject is provided as well as safety online and safe digital tools, women and girls can begin to benefit from the knowledge economy in the ICT sector and explore other career opportunities in STEM.
We also call on the private sector to create opportunites that will ensure that women and girls can be active conveyors of ideas and information through their use of digital ICTs and not passive recipients of information.