We Must Empower Girls To Bridge the Gender Gap in Information and Communications Technology

International Girls in ICT Day, celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday in April, is a significant occasion dedicated to promoting opportunities for girls and women in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), this day underscores the importance of empowering girls to pursue careers in ICT and bridging the gender gap in technology-related fields.

The day serves as a platform to raise awareness about the challenges and opportunities faced by girls and women in ICT. It aims to break down gender stereotypes and barriers that have historically limited female participation in STEM fields, particularly in ICT-related professions. By highlighting the achievements of women in ICT and showcasing their contributions to innovation and progress, International Girls in ICT Day inspires girls to explore their interests in technology and pursue rewarding careers in the field.

The theme for this year’s celebration, “Leadership,” emphasizes the critical need for strong female role models in STEM careers. It underscores the importance of empowering girls to take on leadership roles in technology and promoting their representation in decision-making positions within the industry. By encouraging girls to aspire to leadership positions and providing them with the necessary support and mentorship, we can create a more inclusive and diverse ICT workforce.

In Kenya, where the rate of women graduating from university with an ICT degree is disproportionately low, initiatives like International Girls in ICT Day are essential for promoting gender equality in technology education and careers, for instance, women comprise less than 30 percent of ICT graduates, highlighting a pressing need for initiatives that promote gender equality in technology-related fields.

In today’s digital age, the demand for skilled professionals in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is rapidly increasing. However, despite the opportunities presented by the ICT sector, women remain significantly underrepresented. In Kenya,
While women now fill 40% of high-skill occupations globally, their participation in ICT-related fields continues to be low. Women are nearly absent from software development, engineering, technology research, academia, and policymaking roles. They also tend to leave science and technology jobs at higher rates than men.

Bridge International Academies recognizes the importance of addressing this gender gap and empowering girls to pursue careers in ICT. For nearly 15 years, Bridge has been providing children in Kenya with a life changing education that gives them a strong foundation and the gateway to their future success.

The organization believes that women and girls play a critical role in information and communications technology and that their participation should be strengthened.

Lillian Wamuyu, the Director of Gender and Child Empowerment at Bridge, asserts that girls deserve equitable opportunities to excel, underscoring the necessity of empowering and supporting them to thrive academically and realize their potential in life.

We’re proud to empower women and nurture confident, successful girls capable of excelling in the field of ICT. Our teacher training and classroom management strategies are geared towards fostering girls’ leadership both within and beyond the classroom, remarks Lillian.

Since 2015, tens of thousands of Bridge girls have excelled in the KCPE exams and have been awarded places at some of Kenya’s top secondary schools. Today, the institution boasts alumni girls in universities in Kenya and the US who are pursuing courses in the field of technology.

Mercyline Mokeira, a Bridge alumni currently enrolled at Masinde Muliro University pursuing Geospatial Information Science, is resolute in leveraging geospatial information to address challenges in her community, including security issues and resource allocation.

I am a resilient girl, steadfast in my belief in myself. I aim to demonstrate to the world that women are equals to men, if not better. It’s time we dispelled the notion of female weakness. We must believe in our aspirations, for we alone can effect the change we envision, she asserts.

Rose Aloo, another Bridge alumni pursuing a course in Data Science at JKUAT University, acknowledges Bridge’s role in igniting her passion for data science and demonstrating that with dedication and support from her teachers, she was able to pursue her technological aspirations.

To all the girls out there, remember that your potential is limitless. Don’t be afraid to explore opportunities and chase your passions. With determination and the right support system, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. She remarks

As the world marks the International Day of Girls in ICT, one intelligent girl from Bridge is making a clarion call for girls to be supported to excel in courses in ICT.

Let’s create more tech clubs for girls and provide them with the necessary learning materials,” urges Precious Mwende, a Grade 7 pupil. “We also need to expose girls to female role models in the field of technology. By inviting women working in tech-related fields to speak at school events, organizing career days to visit tech companies, or facilitating mentorship programs with industry professionals, we can inspire girls to pursue careers in ICT.

Her sentiment is echoed by Asnet Hakuya, a Grade 2 Bridge teacher, who underscores the need to encourage and support girls in excelling in Tech Careers, given the trajectory of the future.

Today, technology is transforming every industry on the planet. All children should learn how to create technology, not just use it. By starting early, they’ll have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path. She articulates.

On this International Girls in ICT Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to supporting and empowering girls in ICT. Together, let us work towards a world where every girl has the opportunity to pursue her dreams and make her mark in the field of technology