Across every corner of the globe, events are underway to celebrate ITU’s International Girls in ICT Day.
Girls in Belgium are creating their own apps. Students in Somalia are coding. In Moldova, UN Women is crowdsourcing questions from young women about future careers in ICT. And global events such as the Internet Society’s worldwide Wikipedia ‘Editathon,’ are engaging girls all over the world to raise the visibility of women online.
At ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, over 150 girls participated in a variety of interactive workshops and mentoring sessions, centered around the theme “Expand horizons, change attitudes.” These local school girls, aged 13 to 17, learned all about the latest technologies and acquired important digital skills and technical tools that can be used in their daily lives.
Indeed, ITU’s International Girls in ICT Day is proving once again that there is no shortage of passion, energy and creativity. The question is, how to harness it to empower the next generation of women in tech?
“The most important part of Girls in ICT Day is being surrounded by so many influential and important women who have such a huge impact on telecommunications, engineering and other branches of science.” — Ana, student at Institut Florimont
ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, along with BDT Director Brahima Sanou, TSB Director Chaesub Lee, and Canadian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ms. Rosemary McCarney, were all present to welcome the girls and encourage them to break down the barriers so often seen in the ICT sector.
Two girls even had the chance to address the ongoing ITU Council, where they expressed to delegates of Member States their hope for a future in which both girls and boys are equally represented. One of the girls told the entire group of delegates from around the world how she had just learned how to program a robot.
“What I learned from not finishing my robot, is that — though you fail sometimes — you have to go back to it and work on it again and again and again till you get it right,” she said to warm applause from across the hall of distinguished ICT leaders who expressed their appreciation and inspiration from her comments.
Hands-on skill building that’s fun!
As small colorful robots buzzed around the display area and virtual reality headsets transported the girls into another world, the students were given the opportunity to choose from over 10 different workshops, ranging from robotics and videogame development to creating a webpage and 3D printing.
On the experience of building and programming a ‘smart’ wristband, Charlotte from the International School of Geneva said, “I think it’s great to be learning about these wristbands because it’s just another thing that you can do with ICTs and it makes my creativity flow a bit more.”
Furthermore, the girls received mentoring and guidance from leading women in the field, including engineers, webmasters and software developers, on how to launch a successful career in the ever-changing tech industry.
“These types of events are great opportunities to reach younger girls to show them that STEM subjects are interesting and offer great opportunities” — Maria Alandes Pradillo
“It’s good that there are female role models for them so that they can consider this a real possibility,” said Maria Alandes Pradillo, a Computer Engineer at CERN.
This is just one event taking place today. Girls in ICT Day activities are being held across the globe, with 170 events taking place in more than 80 countries, inspiring girls everywhere to immerse themselves into the exciting world of ICTs.
Launched in 2012, Girls in ICT Day is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of April. It has grown every year since it’s inception and is now part of a global environment that empowers and encourages young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICTs. To date, over 300,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 9,000 celebrations in 166 countries worldwide.
Check out the Girls in ICT Map to see all of the global events taking place today and all week. If you planned or attended an event be sure to add it to the map!
View all the photos on Flickr and be sure to share your stories with the hashtag #GirlsinICT
By Carolina Euceda