International Girls in ICT Day was celebrated for the first time in Nigeria by e-Business Life Communication Limited in Collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)on Thursday, April 26, 2012.
Main One Cable Company was the Platinum sponsor of the one day conference, which was fully endorsed by the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology, The Computer Professional Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), and the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), and the Institute of Software Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON).
Other supporters of the event were Omatek Ventures, Google Nigeria and Teledom International.
Speaking in her keynote address at the event, Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, who was represented by the Head of e-Government at the ministry, Mrs. Moni Udoh, expressed her full support of the initiative and urged that girls be encouraged to choose science related subjects early in school so that they will be well suited to pursue ICT related courses and careers.
“Girls must be exposed to ICT education very early in life. So that the culture, orientation and requisite ICT skills would have been acquired,” the minister said.
Mrs. Johnson noted that women are beginning to show that ICT is not and should not be the preserve of men by taking up challenging positions in the industry. This, she observed was evident at the event by the caliber of tech women that were present. They included, The Chief Executive Officer of Main One Cable Company, Ms. Funke Opeke, who chaired the programme, Managing Director, Omatek Ventures, Mrs. Florence Seriki, President, Association of Professional Women Engineers in Nigeria (APWEN), Mrs. Olayinka Abdul , and Chief Executive Officer of FutureSoft, Mrs. Bose Ojougboh of NCC, Oreoluwa Somolu, Founder of W-Tec Miss Nkem Uwaje to mention but a few.
In her speech, Chief Executive Officer, Main One Cable Company, Ms.Funke Opeke, expressed her delight at the quality of attendees at the event, She noted that currently, the world is shaped by ICTs, thus taking up a career in ICT provides global opportunities.
Ms. Opeke recounted her own experience in the university in a class where the ratio of males to females was about 8 to 1, corroborating the fears that led to this initiative. She explained her interesting technology courses could be and urged the young girls to take more interest in maths, computer and the sciences.
The Main One boss also expressed her willingness to mentor young girls who are interested in taking up careers in ICTs.
Earlier in her welcome address, Mrs. Ufuoma Emuophedaro, Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of e-Business Life Communication Limited, organizers of the programme, noted that any training that had to do with children is worthwhile as it relates to the sustainability and future development of the nation.
She observed that just as there is a global ICT divide between developed and emerging nations, there is another form of ICT (digital) divide internally in the nations; that between the male and female gender. A gap that needs to be bridged.
Mrs. Emuophedaro explained that the ICT Girls Day was an initiative of the International Telecoms Union (ITU) launched with the idea of creating a global environment that will empower and encourage girls and young women to consider careers in the field of information and communication technologies. Thus, the ITU has placed the 4th (fourth) Thursday of every year to be the day girls and young women are particularly encouraged to consider careers in the field of ICT and society is reminded to support them in their choice.
She also pointed out that ICTs make our lives richer and more comfortable as they connect people worldwide - anywhere, anytime, thus a career in the ICT sector has no limits anymore, noting that this is the first time we are joining in the celebration here in Nigeria and we hope to continue and make it bigger subsequently.
The celebration was marked through three major activities; they include an essay competition which commenced at the beginning of March and ended in early April. Topic: “There is currently a global digital divide between developed and developing countries and within countries there is another form of digital divide between the male and female gender. Write an article to a National Daily in your country proffering solutions on how to encourage girls to take up careers in ICT.” The essays were marked by a team of teachers that assess West Africa Examination Council
(WAEC) and similar competitions.
The second activity was a quiz competition among three schools; they are Queens College, Yaba, Lagos, Lagoon Girls Secondary school, Lekki, Lagos and Baptist Girls Academy, Obanikoro Lagos. The girls were tested on maths, computer science and their knowledge of the Internet.
The third activity was a roundtable discussion in which some of our leading Tech women in Nigeria shared their experiences and encouraged the girls to take up careers in ICT.
For the quiz competition the two girls from Lagoon Secondary School, which came first received a mini Omatek laptop each, while the two girls from Queens College, who came second received a Nokia Asha handset each and the girls from Baptist Girls Academy each got a laptop bag from Main One Cable company.
The first prize of an HP/Compaq laptop for the essay competition went to Miss Oreoluwa Otegbade of Lagoon Girls Secondary school, the second prize of a rechargeable DVD went to Miss Awunor Onyeka of Chrisland College, Idimu, while the third prize of a Nokia Asha phone handset went to Miss Giwa Teniola of Grace High School.
There were 116 participants at the event.
Participants at the programme agreed that encouraging the girl child to take up careers in ICT is a worthwhile venture and should be continuous and not stop with a one-day programme. They therefore suggested that
1. Government through its ministries and agencies such as the ministry
of education, ministry of Communications Technology, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other relevant agencies should be more involved and committed to programmes that will encourage this initiative of the ITU.
2. The campaign should not stop with a one day event but a whole lot
more activities should be put in place to run through the year. They include shadowing and mentoring.
3. Computer social network clubs should be set up in secondary schools
across the nation.
4. Computer Science should be made compulsory at both primary and
Secondary school levels as the students will require ICTs no matter their future fields of Endeavour
5. More awareness and education should be created for the girl child
and their parents through workshops and seminars as this will help them know what areas of study are available in ICT. The awareness will also help change the mindset of girls towards technology.
6. Scholarships and grants should be offered to girls who are
interested and hoping to study ICT related courses.
In conclusion, participants at the event unanimously agreed that no career should be termed as a “man’s job or a woman’s job. Females all over the world should challenge themselves to do the unimaginable, achieve the unthinkable and bridge this gap in the process, for it is what the heart conceives that the mind and body will deliver.
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Long Live the Comm Tech industry, Long Live Girls-in ICT
Mrs. Ufuoma Emuophedaro,
eBusiness Life Communication Limited.