Job opportunities in the ICT continue to grow, and many countries and regions are predicting a shortage of qualified staff with math, science, engineering and computing skills to meet the growing demand. At the same time, many companies are looking to increase the numbers of women in the sector. This means that highly qualified women in technical fields have significant opportunities available to them. Unfortunately teenage girls and young women often never even consider a career in ICTs. There is a lack of awareness among students, teachers and parents on the opportunities presented by a career in ICT.

Attitudes can change when girls meet ICT professionals and are invited into companies and government agencies to meet ICT professionals. For this reason, ITU members agreed to recognize Girls in ICT Days on the 4th Thursday of every April in ITU Plenipotentiary Resolution 70 (Guadalajara, 2010). ITU is also helping girls find the information they need by developing a Girls in ICT Portal with links to scholarships, training, internships, contests and awards, tech camps, online networks and, of course, Girls in ICT Day activities. The Girls in ICT Portal was announced in the GIRLS IN ICT Session in front of the overcrowded conference room. Our State Secretary Ms. Jasna Matic was a panelist together with Ms. Nidhi Tandon, Director, Gender Consultant & Trainer, Networked Intelligence for Development (NID) (Canada), Ms. Monique Morrow, CTO Asia Pacific and Distinguished Consulting Engineer, Cisco Systems (USA), Ms. Bitilokho Ndiaye, Technical Advisor and Gender Focal Point, Ministry of Telecommunication and ICT (Senegal), Mr. Daniel Reed, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft (United States), Ms. Susan Schorr, Head, Special Initiatives Division ITU-BDT and Mr. Brahima Sanou, BDT Director as a moderator of the session.
All of the participants discussed the well known and repeated prejudices and stereotypes about women in predominately male professional areas.

Indentifying obvious concerns about this theme, once again conclusion was that encouraging girls to enter the ICT sector is not only good for women’s professional development and job prospects, it is good for business. A study (post presented to the panel) shows that broad range of organizations and companies together with government sector have concluded that increasing women at the top positively impacts financial performance, while those that ignore diversity issues risk ongoing labor shortages.

Supporting the education of women and girls in the ICT sector is also in line with United Nations Millennium Development Goal 3 to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women. Not only are jobs in the ICT sector lifting women out of poverty, a more gender-balanced sector offers fulfilling mid and high-level careers, and enables highly talented women to springboard to the top of the career ladder. This is good for everyone. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said, “Equality for women and girls is not only a basic human right it is a social and economic imperative. Where women are educated and empowered, economies are more productive and strong. Where women are fully represented, societies are more peaceful and stable."

Looking forward to celebrate the Girls in ICT Day 2012!

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