URSULA LAUNCHES GREAT PUSH FOR MORE GHANAIAN WOMEN AND GIRLS IN ICT Featured

Having recognised the crucial role that women in information and communications technology play in national development, the Akufo-Addo government reviewed the “Girls in ICT” initiative, institutionalised in 2012, to include coding in the training module.

 

This, according to Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications, was to expose “the young maidens to basic programming to improve their critical thinking and creative skills as they develop their career interest”.

Speaking at the climax of celebrations for 2019 Girls in ICT Day in Takoradi in the Western Region on Monday, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said that encouraging more girls and women to pursue courses in ICT will be an important key to unlock Ghana’s development.

Need to include

“We cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 if girls and women are left behind in the development agenda,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said.

“Again, we cannot eradicate poverty if issues of female inclusion are not addressed as a matter of urgency, bearing in mind that the huge informal sector of our economy of about 70 per cent is mostly constituted by women,” she said.

The Government of Ghana launched the Girls in ICT initiative in 2012 under a global project by the International Communication Union (ICU) to encourage member states to adopt measures and implement activities aimed at bridging the digital gender divide.

Jobs for youth

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said that every sector of the Ghanaian economy is dependent on ICT for efficiency in delivering services, as the demand for ICT skills is increasing rapidly.

However, she said, there is a huge skills gap, a shortcoming which calls for urgent measures to be put in place to increase the promotion and adoption of ICT careers among young Ghanaians, especially girls.

The Minister said it is important that Ghana takes a strategic and systematic approach to encourage more girls and women to take up leadership roles in the ICT industry.

“This is a shared responsibility. We must expand the horizon and change our attitudes to ensure that this digital divide is bridged as fast as possible.
“Giving these girls such an opportunity will enable them to make informed career decisions and give them a better advantage in future,” the Communications Minister said.

Girls on the move

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said that during her visits to some districts she has been thrilled to see some of the girls performing brilliantly just three days after being introduced to coding.

“I am amazed at the enthusiasm with which the girls adjusted to the new learning concept of coding using CSS, HTML and so on,” she said.

There is hope

She said the ICT sector holds enormous opportunities for women with the requisite skills, yet stereotyping and discrimination continue to deprive girls of the opportunity to excel in this field.

The Minister argued that misconceptions such as the notion that: “ICT requires mathematical skills, programming is boring, logical and sterile, and people who work in ICT fields do not have a social life put the girls off, resulting in this digital divide.”

However, there is hope for Ghana.

“I’m excited to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said. “Ghana presented an all-girls robotics team for the senior division of the World Robofest Championship in the United States and they won the topmost position, beating teams from the United States, Mexico, Egypt, South Korea and dozens of others.”

Girls in ICT Day

Ghana marked the international Girls in ICT Day on Monday May 27 in Takoradi. The global theme for the event this year is “Expanding Horizons and Changing Attitudes”.

Six hundred junior high school students were selected from nine districts in the Western Region to undergo training on specialist ICT courses for two weeks, with awards for the best-performing students.

There were 60 girls on the course and all were given laptops. In addition, the top ten girls won internet modems, each with a one-year data bundle.

With support from the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications, the ICT labs of the schools of the best 21 girls emerging from the inter-district competition will be upgraded to support ICT learning. All the teachers and co-ordinators who trained the girls also received laptops.

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Last modified on Thursday, 13 June 2019 13:38

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