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ITU celebrates global Girls in ICT Day

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Every year, on the fourth Thursday in April, ITU and the global technology community celebrate Girls in ICT Day, an awareness-raising initiative designed to pay tribute to women’s contribution to the technology industry and promote tech careers to a new generation of girls with an interest in science and maths.

 

Since its inception in 2010, the day has been gaining huge momentum around the world, with over 1,300 events organised in 90 countries in 2012, and even more activities set to take place in 100+ countries spanning 21 time zones during the course of the day today.

This year, ITU is celebrating the event both at home and abroad, with events organised at its Geneva headquarters as well as in Brussels, in partnership with the European Commission’s DG Connect, and with the personal support of EC Vice-President Neelie Kroes.

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré started the day in Brussels at a tech breakfast focused on promoting opportunities for girls in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), organised by the Women2020 organisation. The event featured a high-level panel debate, followed by the launch of the new Digital Girl of the Year and Digital Woman of the Year awards.

During a networking lunch at the European Parliament, Dr Touré accompanied ITU partners Cisco, Intel and WITIN (Women in Technology in Nigeria) in awarding Tech Needs Girls prizes to five talented young individuals, and a group of young Nigerian girls, for innovative technology-based projects. The WITIN ‘Princeton’ group comprised Adeola Augustina Fasan, Abisola Chinonye Jegede, Chiemerie Mary Okoro, Joy Ayomide Olufemi, and Chikodili Grace Ozoagu. Cisco winners were Florence Boden, Thea Bradley and Caitlin Wilson, while Intel awarded its prizes to Meiri Anto and Naomi Shah. Cisco is also organising 80 of its own Girls in ICT Day events in 60 countries around the world.

Dr Touré rounded off the day’s activities with an address to the European Parliament in which he highlighted the urgent need to redress the growing gender imbalance in the technology sector.

“Despite some progress, only 21 of the Fortune 500 companies are run by women. There are only 16 women ICT Ministers out of ITU’s 193 Member State governments, and only 10 of the world’s 160 independent ICT regulatory authorities are headed by a woman. In a world where over 95% of all jobs now have a digital component, and where there is a large and growing skills shortage in the ICT sector, we need to get more girls involved in science, technology, engineering and maths, and we need to get more girls taking an interest in ICT careers,” he told MEPs.

Dr Touré said Girls in ICT Day has an important role to play in raising the issue at a global level, and thanked the European Commission for its vision and commitment in creating an exceptional awareness-raising event.

“I am convinced that events such as this – and the many hundreds of other ICT & Girls events taking place today around the world – will make a real difference, and that we will see a dramatic change in the coming decades, as more and more girls study tech subjects, gain tech degrees and pursue tech careers,” he said.

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