Geneva 24 April 2019 — Today, 25 April, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the global technology community and some 170 countries have celebrated ‘Girls in ICT Day’, an international day observed by the United Nations to help bridge the gender digital divide.
The importance the United Nations is placing on technology as a driver of development is reflected in the launch of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ United Nations High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation last year. Hundreds of events are planned worldwide aimed at inspiring a new generation of girls to explore the exciting opportunities offered by a career in information and communication technology (ICT).
Bridging the gender digital divide
ITU estimates that within the next 10 years, there will be more than two million technology jobs that cannot be filled because of a lack of digital specialists. Girls and young women who learn coding, app development and computer science will not only be well-placed for a successful career in the ICT sector; advanced digital skills are rapidly becoming a strong advantage for students in almost any other field they might choose to pursue. Digital skills give qualified girls an edge in a competitive job market, provide a higher salary and enhance career mobility.
This year, ITU will celebrate Girls in ICT Day at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The special focus on Africa recognizes the enormous potential for leveraging ICTs to drive economic growth and development and accelerate progress towards all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. As well as having the lowest rate of Internet penetration, the African region has the widest digital gender gap in the world with only 18.6 per cent of women using the Internet, compared with 24.9 per cent of men.
“Girls in ICT Day is a call to action to inspire the next generation of girls and young women to learn more about the exciting world of tech,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “As the head of the lead UN agency for ICTs and an International Gender Champion, I am committed to pressing for progress for gender equality inside and outside ITU. Not only is gender equality key to ensuring that no one is left behind, it is an essential element to the success of every single one of the Sustainable Development Goals…