April 27 marks the International Girls in ICT Day, a day set aside to highlight the value of women in the field of information and communications technology, and to encourage more girls to plan for a career in this expanding field.
This year's International Girls In ICT Day sees hundreds of events showcasing the technological skills of girls and young women.
The day is organized annually by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the leading United Nations agency for telecommunications and ICTs. A highlight of this year's event was a virtual international meetup of girls in Geneva, Vilnius and Beirut through a shared game application and video link. This enabled them to explore ICT together in an interactive format in real-time.
In Geneva, the girls demonstrated new digital skills they learned in activities leading up to Girls in ICT Day and had the opportunity to meet women mentors from the tech sector. In Vilnius, the girls enjoyed a robotics workshop, practical demonstrations of virtual and augmented reality, and witnessed a presentation of winning projects from Lithuania's biggest annual robotics and technology competition, ROBOTIADA.
"The important value that young women bring to ICTs was showcased today at hundreds of hands-on Girls in ICT Day events organized around the globe," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. "ITU hopes that Girls in ICT Day will continue to introduce more girls to ICTs and to the real opportunities that exist for them in this innovative and expanding field."
Key events in Africa included trainings, workshops and fairs designed to encourage girls and women to take up opportunities in the ICT space by highlighting the achievements of various women in the field.
In Egypt, ITU and the German Society for International Cooperation, the International Development Research Centre and the Aga Khan & Continuous Education Center organized an event in Aswan in which girls participated in an ICT training camp, a contest, mentoring sessions and a career fair. The event was designed to provide young women in Aswan with practical insight into the ICT sector and ICT skills that can increase their employability. Eight more similar events are planned between now and 2019, with the goal of reaching a total of 450 girls.
In Ethiopia, ITU, UN Women, UNDP, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and the Africa Union Commission organized a Girls in ICT Day conference, sponsored by Huawei, Ethiopia PLC, which brought together girls from several African countries to explore and share together their ICT experiences.
In Tanzania, the entire month of March 2017 was used to conduct trainings for girls attending public school in six different zones in Tanzania. As part of the training, teams of girls developed the concept for an innovative mobile application and then competed against other teams at the local, regional and national levels. The national winners will then represent their peers at the ITU Girls in ICT Day conference held in Ethiopia.
Across social media, messages came in from around the world with the hashtag #GirlsinICT. These demonstrated the broad global recognition of the day and the importance of supporting girls to explore the field of ICT so that they can one day contribute to future innovations.
Since its inception in 2014, over 240,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 7,200 celebrations of International Girls in ICT Day in 160 countries worldwide.