Amplifying progress on International Girls in ICT Day

Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava, Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau

About 70 per cent of men today use the Internet, compared with 65 per cent of women globally. In some countries, the gap is much wider.

The good news is that we are making progress, with the percentage of the world’s women using the Internet increasing steadily in recent years. Still, we have some way to go before the world reaches digital gender parity.

Similarly, worldwide, women are underrepresented when it comes to decision-making and leadership roles in tech.

Women remain considerably less likely to hold an executive position, become information and communication technology (ICT) entrepreneurs, or be represented at the highest level of science and technology policy-making.

This needs to change. That’s why this year’s International Girls in ICT Day theme is Leadership .

Fostering visions of change

Leader is not just a title. A leader is someone who has a dream – a vision of change.

To build an equitable, fair, and prosperous digital future for all, we need to ensure that girls and women get the skills and opportunities to take up leadership roles across the ICT sector. So that more of them become decision-makers, and they, too, can drive change.

Aiming to promote digital leadership for women and girls worldwide, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) took the global International Girls in ICT Day celebration on the road again this year.

On 25 April, we were in Manila, the Philippines, taking part in discussions and mentoring sessions, hearing insights and reflections, and sharing best practice strategies to encourage and empower both current and future generations of girls and women to take up digital leadership roles.

Our international Girls in ICT event welcomed diverse women and girl leaders.

My fellow participants included Ivan John Enrile Uy, Secretary of the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology; UN Deputy-Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed (contributing a video message); and UN Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez.

That high-level segment set the stage for an intergenerational dialogue and a host of hands-on activities.

Students from Far Eastern University – the host of this year’s celebrations – engaged in mentorship sessions on topics for the digital future, such as artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, and robotics.

I thank the Government of the Philippines for its tireless engagement with ITU over the last 112 years, ever since the early years of national independence. I also wish to congratulate the Philippines for showing such consistent resolve to advance connectivity, pursue digital transformation, and bridge the gender digital divide.

Celebrations around the globe

But it doesn’t stop there! Girls in ICT Day celebrations took place worldwide, with events organized by ITU members and partners, as well as other organizations in every region.

ITU-hosted regional celebrations happened in Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe; in Egypt, Iraq, and the State of Palestine; in India, Thailand and Vanuatu; in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan; in Brazil and Paraguay; and in Czechia.

See the map on our Girls in ICT portal .

Even more Girls in ICT activities happened at the country-level around the globe.

At ITU headquarters in Geneva, a Women’s Leadership in Tech workshop took place as part of ITU-D Study Group 1 rapporteur group meetings. It featured an intergenerational dialogue with high-level speakers and an interactive session with participants discussing opportunities and challenges for women’s leadership in tech.

We must come together to break down barriers to female participation and ensure a more equitable tech future.

Humanity’s digital-enabled potential can only be fully realized when it benefits from everyone’s input.

ITU is committed to supporting countries as they mainstream gender in their connectivity policies and their digital transformation agendas.

The International Girls in ICT celebrations that took place in the Philippines and around the world will help us shape a future in which every girl is empowered with digital skills, and in which girls can take their place as leaders in the technological development that is redefining our world.

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