ITU and partners foster STEM learning for girls

The International Telecommunications Union Logo

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is celebrating International Girls in ICT Day, observed annually during the last week of April, with a focus on ‘Access and Safety’ as key elements to engage the next generation with information and communication technology (ICT).

This year’s theme reflects the world’s shared interest in empowering youth and girls to safely benefit from an active digital life.

ITU recognizes the need to ensure girls and women enjoy equal access to digital learning opportunities, particularly in least developed countries.

The International Telecommunications Union Logo

According to ITU’s latest data, globally, 57 per cent of women use the Internet compared to 62 per cent of men. And worldwide only 30 per cent of tech science and technology professionals are women. If women are unable to access the Internet and do not feel safe online, they are unable to develop the necessary digital skills and engage in digital spaces, which diminishes their opportunities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related fields.

“Girls in ICT Day is a call to action to inspire the next generation of young women and girls to enter STEM careers,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “I call on all government, business, university leaders and others to do their utmost to support young women and girls and give them the chance to achieve their dreams.”

Growing global participation

The global celebration and associated worldwide Girls in ICT Day events underline ITU’s commitment to encourage girls and young women everywhere to consider pursuing STEM career paths.

To date, over 600,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 12,000 celebrations of Girls in ICT Day in 195 countries worldwide.

“All over the world, girls and young women want to join the digital revolution. When we remove barriers of access and safety, women and girls can make remarkable contributions to and be empowered by ICTs. To put it simply: tech needs girls, and girls need tech,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “Through International Girls in ICT Day, we want to use the power of partnerships to stimulate solutions and innovation. We invite partners to join the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition to help bridge key gaps to ensure the active participation of girls in ICT related careers, and achieve our goal of fostering meaningful connectivity and digital transformation globally.”

Girls in ICT Day programme for 2022

An interactive global dialogue hosted on 28 April on ICT access and safety for girls will take place as part of the 2022 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum.

ITU regional offices are holding Girls in ICT Day events to encourage girls and young women everywhere to learn about technology and find STEM career paths:

During regional virtual and hybrid events in the Arab States, Africa, the Americas, CIS and Europe on 28 April, women regulators and ministers within the Network of Women for the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) will connect with young women to share their experiences and inspire them to continue or start a career in tech.

In Asia, Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission and the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society are working with the ITU Asia and the Pacific Regional Office to organize celebrations on 28 April, as well as events and training programmes throughout June.

In the Americas, Generation Connect and the Network of Women for WTDC will collaborate to celebrate Girls in ICT Day. More events are planned in Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Mexico. Also in the Americas, the next edition of the Americas Girls Can Code (AGCC) will be launched on 29 April during an event organized by ITU in close collaboration with META.

In Europe, the European Digital Youth Jam on 4 April, a special Generation Connect session, provided a grassroots platform for young people’s voices to discuss challenges and opportunities for young women in STEM. Outcomes of the discussion input into the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on 6-7 April and will feed into regional celebrations of Girls in ICT Day. A special joint session by ITU and the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) on 17 May will take stock of European actions, policy implications, and activities to advance access and safety for girls in ICT.

In the Arab States, the Girls in ICT Day 2022 celebration powered by Network of Women for WTDC for the Arab region will be held on 28 April with a special focus on encouraging girls and young women to meaningfully utilize ICTs.

In the CIS Region, a hybrid Fireside Discussion will be held to celebrate Girls in ICT Day on 28 April, supported by the Network of Women for WTDC. The event is a part of a wider Girls in ICT Day celebration in Uzbekistan, where a digital learning centre for women and youth will be opened, organized by the Regional Office for CIS in partnership with Uzbekistan.