Uganda on Thursday joined the rest of the world to commemorate International Girls in ICT Day under the international theme, ‘Connected Girls, Creating Brighter Futures’.
At the Uganda Communications Commission Head Office in Bugolobi, at least 30 girls from St Lawrence Kigoowa, Hill Preparatory School and Kitante Primary School, as well as some daughters of UCC staff, converged to mark the Day.
Celebrated on the 4th Thursday in April every year, International Girls in ICT Day was established by the UN specialized agency for ICTs, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), to celebrate women and girls and encourage them to pursue studies and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – STEM.
Under the localized theme ‘STEM in Heels’, UCC partnered with FundiBots, a company that provides hands-on, practical STEM education to children and youths, to conduct a mini robotics camp for upper primary pupils as a symbol of empowering girls to embrace ICTs.
An engineer herself, the UCC Ag. Executive Director Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo engaged and encouraged the girls to take up STEM careers, noting that the world is progressing towards faster and technically superior times that girls and women must be a part of.
The main objective of conducting the half-day robotics camp was to inspire young girls who are on the verge of making subject choices that will determine their future career paths to consider ICTs as an option.
Besides FundiBots’ robotics training, activities at the UCC Head Office included an inspirational talk in which the girls were encouraged to believe in themselves, as well as a presentation on cybersecurity.
On cybersecurity, the girls were taken through how to stay safe online considering the threat of cyberbullying, among other dangers associated with online activity, especially for minors.
In his message to mark International Girls in ICTs Day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted that despite Information and Communication Technology playing such a key role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, half the world remains offline, most of these being women and girls in developing countries.
According to International Telecommunication Union (ITU) data, 17% more men and boys have access to the internet compared to women and girls. This gap is wider in the least Developed Countries (LDCs) such as Uganda.
This gender gap, the UN says, reinforces gender inequalities by denying women and girls opportunities to access education, find better-paying jobs, and start businesses.
Over the years, UCC has organised activities such as career talks and exhibitions to mark Girls in ICT Day. The last such event was celebrated at Nabisunsa Girls School in 2018 with more than 200 students drawn from both primary and secondary schools around Kampala.
Through the engagement with schoolgirls on Thursday, the Commission sought to inspire and motivate the girls and their teachers present, and those following online, to become ICT champions in their respective schools.
The event also sought to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 – to achieve gender equality and empower women and young girls through ICTs.