The only way the world can bridge the digital gender gap and make sure that no one in the world misses out on the future is by working together, said Svenja Schulze, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, during a celebration of International Girls in ICT Day.
At the event hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at the Transform Africa Summit in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Schulze called on governments to invest in policies that are pro women and girls.
“The Future is not just digital, it’s female too,” she added.
ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin said it is concerning that only 16% of digital ministers in Africa are female, considering that women make up 50% of the population on the continent.
African Union Commissioner Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid also weighed in, saying more women are needed in tech firms and ICT boardrooms.
1,000 schoolgirls from Matabeleland North Province of Zimbabwe joined the celebrations for International Girls in ICT Day.
(Source: Transform Africa Summit)
“Empowering women in tech, is empowering women in general. We cannot afford to exclude women from digital transformation, ” Abou-Zeid added.
Minister of ICT and Innovation in Rwanda, Paula Ingabire, said that “everyone across countries needs to be deliberate about empowering women in tech. The policies that we create need to be deliberate and ensure that the women that get empowered add value.”
Girls in ICT celebrated
The celebration also featured 1,000 schoolgirls from Matabeleland North Province of Zimbabwe. In recognition of the girls present in the auditorium, ITU’s Bogdan-Martin said International Girls in ICT Day has created a global environment that empowers and encourages young women and girls to consider careers in ICT.
Furthermore, as part of the celebrations, 10 schoolgirls who had taken part in an essay competition were awarded laptops.
Minister of Communication and Digitization in Ghana, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said that women need to be included in all the decisions that are being made in boardrooms.
“However, although it is important to have empowerment in the ICT sector, we need to have women that empower,” Owusu-Ekuful explained, “therefore, exposing as many girls as possible to the ICT sector.”
Original – by Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa