Here at ITU News, we love learning about stories of young people engaging with information and communication technologies (ICTs) to make a difference in their lives and communities. To celebrate International Youth Day, we’re rounding up some of our favorite recent posts that feature the power of youth.
‘The new and emerging technologies are young, as much as we are, and some of us out there are already a part of success stories that are changing the world.’ – Daniel Chassot, Intern, ITU
These youth-led ICT efforts can directly contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and they set a positive example for similar efforts around the world.
ITU intern Daniel Chassot, 21, recently summed up the importance of youth involvement for an article on how the World Summit on the Information Society amplifies youth voices.
“The new and emerging technologies are young, as much as we are, and some of us out there are already a part of success stories that are changing the world.”
There are as many as 66.6 million young people unemployed worldwide, according to International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates. Digital skills can help make young people more competitive in the job market and empower them to change their futures – and the world around them.
In Mexico City, Pilar Figueroa Casas went from selling tortillas at a market to working in front-end engineering for a Silicon Valley tech company after she graduated from Laboratoria, a digital bootcamp.
“Laboratoria showed me I could help people or do something great through code,” she said.
‘We are all responsible for raising awareness about the importance of both boys and girls participating in the digital economy.’ – Charbel Trad, Digital Opportunity Trust
In Afghanistan, coding schools are fast-tracking students into better employment opportunities – and young people are seizing the opportunity to gain digital skills and change perceptions about youth.
“I think the most important thing beside technical learning is how you change the minds of people in the community to the work of the students which is more valuable,” says Fereshteh Forough, Founder and CEO of Code to Inspire.
And in Lebanon, Charbel Trad is connecting youth trained in digital skills with companies looking for employees as part of Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), a youth-led movement of social innovators.
“We are all responsible for raising awareness about the importance of both boys and girls participating in the digital economy,” he says. “It is the future and the key to a sustainable economy.”
Young people around the world are also leading efforts to increase gender equality and fight back against stereotypes of women in tech.
Kijoli Mjombo, a young woman from Tanzania, mentors young women and girls who are interested in technology.
“Some of the women I’ve worked with have started different businesses where they use technology to market their products,” she says. “One girl named Asha has now started making fabric and selling it online, and that makes me feel very proud.”
Understanding the problems facing women in tech and empowering women and girls with knowledge and skills is key to bridging the gender divide, says Roya Mahboob, CEO of the Digital Citizen Fund and winner of the EQUALS in Tech Award.
‘If we all join together to share our experiences and success – and learn from each other – then we can make sure together that millions of girls who are left behind in the world move forward with access to tools and opportunities to pursue their dreams,” she says.
At ITU and around the world, Girls in ICT Day featured interactive workshops and mentoring sessions to encourage young women to learn about technology, acquire digital skills, and use them in their daily lives.
“These types of events are great opportunities to reach younger girls to show them that STEM subjects are interesting and offer great opportunities,” says Maria Alandes Pradillo, a computer engineer at CERN.
Some young people are taking their digital skills and applying them to improving the lives of others.
Plan International works to showcase how girls and women can use technology to create solutions, says Nora Lindström, Global Coordinator for Digital Development at Plan International.
“We believe it is vital to provide girls in developing countries, including those without access to formal education, with opportunities to themselves create technology and digital solutions that address their particular needs,” she says.
While studying at a computer science programme at University in Nigeria, Dimeji Falana and Dare Adebayo developed a web-based portal that facilitates school management needs. The program is now in 300 schools in Nigeria, and they plan to expand to other African markets.
Their advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
“My advice would be to make sure they are sincere with the problem they are solving, and that they have empathy for the people that have the problem,” Falana says.
These are just a few of the stories about youth using ICTs to make a difference. Do you know someone or are you a young adult who is using ICTs to advance the SDGs and improve lives? We want to hear about it! Tweet at us @ITU.
As ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao recently said at the Global Symposium for Regulators, “Let us continue to work together to harness ICTs for the greater good – and for everyone.”