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eBusiness Life Int’l Girls in ICT: Stakeholders Advocate Investment In Young Girls

Convener, Girls-In-ICT/CEO, e-Business Life Communication Limited, Mrs. Ufuoma Emuophedaro (2nd from left); Manager, South-West Zonal office, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mrs. Jumoke Alaka, who represented the Director General of the Agency, Dr. Inuwa Abdulahi (far right); and Deputy Director, Head Corporate Communication, NCC, Nnenna Ukoha, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida (2nd from right; with winners of the STEM Quiz competition at the just-concluded eBusiness Life Int’l Girls in ICT Day Celebration held in Lagos.

Stakeholders that gathered for the 12th edition of the celebration of the International Girls in ICT Campaign organised by eBusiness Life Communication Limited in Lagos last Thursday, have called on parents and corporates to make concerted efforts at investing in the young girls to enable them prepare for tech careers of the future.

In his keynote address at the event, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida charged the girls to follow evolving trends in the world of technology and pursue excellence in order to make a difference in the workforce of the future.

Dr. Maida, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Head Corporate Communication, NCC, Nnenna Ukoha noted that there will always be gaps to be filled in the ICT field.

According to the NCC Boss, the significance of encouraging young girls and women to consider careers in ICT, stems from the fact that the gender represents half of the global population, and it will only be fair and equitable to seek their views and input in standards that are essential to the shaping of technology.

Furthermore, he noted that encouraging these girls is an investment in the future of the nation.

“The ICT sector offers exciting and well-paid career opportunities; from software development to data analysis, cybersecurity to artificial intelligence, the opportunities are endless. By encouraging more girls and women to enter the ICT field, we can help bridge the digital divide and ensure that everyone has equal access to the opportunities of the digital age,” Maida opined.

He further encouraged young women to latch onto the provisions of Federal Government’s 3MTT initiative, which seeks to provide and empower young Nigerians with technology career opportunities in AI/Machine Learning; Data Analysis & Visualisation; User Interface (UI), User Design (UX) among others.

In a virtual message from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Secretary General, Doreen Bogdan-Martin explained that the 2024 theme, “Leadership”, speaks to more than holding a job title or position of power, but about harnessing the power of ideas and innovation, and the ability to navigate change with confidence even as a student.

“Right now, just 21% of all ICT Ministers are women, and only 32 out of 165 ICT regulators are led by a woman.  In the highest positions of government, gender equality will not be reached for another 130 years. In the private sector women in technologists occupy less than a third of positions and face a pay gap of up to 21%. Just 22% of AI workers globally are women.  And the hiring rate of women in tech leadership roles has stalled. When we look at C-Suite roles in STEM, just 1 in 8 is held by a woman.”

She called for investment in girl education, mentorship and skill-building opportunities so they can not only succeed but thrive as digital trailblazers.

Manager, South-West Zonal office, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mrs. Jumoke Alaka, who represented the Director General of the Agency, Dr. Inuwa Abdulahi, highlighted the numerous opportunities inherent in the ICT sector, and implored the young girls to stay away from negative sides of technology as a means of impacting the society positively.  She encouraged them to also read hard copy materials as a means of retaining knowledge and referencing. She encouraged them to read more of hard copy materials to avoid distractions and easy switch to unnecessary Apps that come with reading from gadgets.

Mrs. Alaka also charged parents to guide their children on the beneficial use of ICT gadgets.

While taking the young girls on an insightful tech-talk session, Digital Strategist and Founder, ‘MissTechy’ – Nigeria’s top Female Tech Blog and video channel, Oluwatobi Ayeni, charged them to be inquisitive and explore ICT. This, she noted, will help them develop interest that will culminate into driving initiatives and filling gaps in technology.

CEO, MyHealthHub, Dr. (Mrs.) Ochuko Ibe while taking the girls on a health talk, challenged them to look at situations around them and seek ways of plugging gaps with technology. She referenced her journey through different fields and how she developed a passion for technology and now uses it to bridge medical gap in rural and underserved areas.

In her welcome address, Convener, Girls-In-ICT/CEO, e-Business Life Communication Limited, Mrs. Ufuoma Emuophedaro, citing ITU’s estimate of skills shortfall of over two million jobs in the ICT sector within the next five years, said girls and young women who learn coding, apps development and computer science will not only be well-placed for a successful career in the ICT sector, but ICT skills that are rapidly becoming a strong advantage for students in just about any other field they might choose to pursue. “Girls with ICT skills can expect to earn good salaries and enjoy plenty of career opportunities.

Girls in ICT Day reminds us that ICTs help to improve the lives of people everywhere – through better health care, better environmental management, better communications, and better educational systems that transform the way children and adults learn.”

Referencing the 2024 theme, Mrs. Daro noted: “While there is a leadership gender gap in every industry, the largest gaps are found in the STEM fields. Women in ICT often find themselves in junior or support roles rather than in managerial roles, with little opportunity for advancement. They are also less likely to hold an executive position, become ICT entrepreneurs, or be represented among science and technology policymakers.

To thrive in STEM, girls and young women must be exposed to women in leadership positions, fostering inspiration and breaking down barriers that hinder their progress. The Girls in ICT Day 2024 theme aims to address these challenges, encouraging empowerment and leadership development for a more equitable future in STEM.”

The event was attended by 170 students from 17 schools across Lagos and Ogun States, and several other guests from the corporate world.

Activities at the event included STEM Quiz and Vlogging competitions; Students roundtable, which was anchored by foremost journalist, Louisa Olaniyi, random quiz and entertainments.

In the Vlogging competition, moderated by tech enthusiast, Digital Strategist and Founder, ‘MissTechy’ – Nigeria’s top Female Tech Blog, Oluwatobi Ayeni, Reagan Memorial Baptist Girls Secondary School, Yaba to the First Prize, while the Second and Third Prizes went to Chrisland College, Ikeja and The Lagoon School, Lekki.

In the STEM Quiz Competition, the top prize went to The Lagoon School, Lekki, while Baptist Girls Academy, Obanikoro and Government Senior College, Agege settled for the 2nd and 3rd positions.

The Event got partnership and support from the NCC, NITDA, Globacom, Digital Encode, VDT Communications, Digital Realty, Huawei Technologies, Inq Digital,  and CocaCola.

This year’s theme for the International Girls in ICT campaign is ‘Leadership’ as stated by the ITU.

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