The fourth Thursday in April may seem non-descript. Just another weekday. But every year, a global network rises up to send a clear message: Girls can, and girls should. With a theme of ‘Girls and Women and Innovation’ this year, Girls in ICT Day is a rallying point to help girls consider careers in information and communication technologies (ICTs) fields.
Here’s a peek at how YTF takes up the call to empower and encourage girls and women throughout the year, in particular targeting opportunities afforded by technology.
Awareness, The First Step
We don’t know what we don’t know. Girls need the chance to see and understand possibilities in the world – possibilites for which they are candidates.
Sometimes it might be hard to see opportunities with the cards stacked against you. A recently released study from the Pew Research Center found “men are more likely than women to own a cell phone in six of the seven countries surveyed…significant gender gaps on mobile phone ownership appear in all the other African countries surveyed except South Africa, where equal numbers of men and women own cell phones.”
YTF sees this technology gender gap in our own program participants. Before enrolling in YTF Academy’s TechCommunities program, Precious had no knowledge of how to operate a computer. Now, she affirms that without the computer skills acquired from YTF, her college entrance exams would have been waste of resources and time. “I performed marvelously well!” she exclaimed.
If the technology isn’t in front of you, how do you even start getting a basic understanding of possibilities?
Even the U.S. government has stepped determinedly into the game. With the new Let Girls Learn initiative, young girls across the globe are accessing quality education and conquering financial, cultural, safety and health barriers that may have kept them away from the classroom.
Confidence, A Lesson in Experience
How many times have you doubted yourself, until you dove in headfirst and came out on the other side realizing you had it in you all along?
Girls need the chance to not only know what’s out there, but get their hands dirty. Operate a computer; work a 3D printing machine; participate in a mobile learning program. With participation, ideas become concrete opportunities. Dreams become career paths. Questions become challenges to overcome.
One step to building confidence is unlocking imaginations. With the support from Silicon Valley-based Women Enhancing Technology (WeTech), we are inspiring girls to think of a future in STEM by demonstrating how 3D printing can change their communities, bringing things they only imagined to life.
In Nigeria, we partnered with Intel for our She Will Connect program. We’re working to reduce the Internet gender gap through an innovative combination of digital literacy training, an online peer network and gender-relevant content. That description may be a mouthful, but the model is working:
“Before enrolling in the program, I didn’t know much about the Internet,” said Chinwendu, 18, who describes the She Will Connect program as life-changing. “Now I confidently use the Internet to research about my dream career [as a medical scientist] and write emails to keep in touch with my relatives living overseas.”
Blessing, 18, also realized her potential when YTF helped her navigate digital tools. She recently learned she scored very high on her Nigerian college entrance exam, the JAMB UTME. She attributes her success to the digital literacy training she got through the She Will Connect program. “Becoming digitally literate has given me the confidence that I need to excel in school, and life!”
We’re an organization of action. YTF doesn’t pen a blog post and not have some power behind it! We help create awareness, give girls confidence and help them take action in some pretty cool ways.
YTF programs turn passion into action for many young women, including those in Project 3E(Education, Environment, and Entrepreneurship). Project 3E empowers aspiring youth entrepreneurs by providing them with the entrepreneurship and ICT skills needed to launch sustainable social enterprises. Once girls in programs like Project 3E lay the baseline for what’s possible with technology, they are empowered to innovate in whatever way fits their skills and passions.
Take Mary, for instance. She a Project 3E participant who was exposed to entrepreneurship, the processes of writing a business plan, a business proposal and other similar skills. She came up with her own business plan, narrating how she can use bamboo trees to control multiple environmental problems by planting bamboo tree along erosion canals.
Girls in ICT Day is all about action. Events and programs are held across the world encouraging girls to turn their career trajectory toward STEM education and careers.
Day after day, year after year, with the network of organizations also lifting up the principles of Girls in ICT Day — we think it’s working.
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