EghtesadOnline: The International Girls in ICT Day was celebrated in Tehran on April 25 to help highlight the importance of bridging the digital gender divide and encourage women to join the ICT sector.
International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday of April, this year falling on April 25. Introduced in 2010 by the International Telecommunication Union — the United Nations specialized telecom agency — the event tries to promote applications of modern technology in empowering women.
“Girls in ICT Day is a call to action to inspire the next generation of girls and young women to learn more about the exciting world of tech,” ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao was quoted as saying on the agency’s website.
On the same occasion UN Chief Antonio Guterres tweeted that “such inspiring programs not only develop skills, they also challenge stereotypes that limit girls’ ambitions and dreams.” He recalled the energy and dedication he saw for himself from those taking part in the African Girls Can Code Initiative earlier this year in Addis Ababa, according to Financial Tribune.
The official twitter account of ITU posted, “When women + girls are empowered with technology, the whole world benefits. Support #GirlsinICT and close the digital #GenderGap.”
The local event was held at Tehran Book Garden, north of the capital, and was supported by the ministries of ICT and education, Iran IT Organization, Tehran Municipality, Iran ICT Guild Organization, Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology and FANAP, a tech firm affiliated to Bank Pasargad.
Girl students from several high schools in Tehran participated. With help from technology mentors they were organized in groups and proposed technological solutions to real-life issues.
The groups pitched ideas before a panel of judges. Two groups and their work attracted closer attention.
One of the groups suggested establishing a mobile application which along with raising public awareness about the autism spectrum would offer those afflicted with the disorder counseling and medical services.
The other team focused on the water crisis. By adding a gadget to shower taps and connecting it to a smartphone, the group suggested, people would be able to monitor the amount of water they use for a bath and thus reduce consumption.
In addition to providing girls the opportunity to build ties with ICT professionals, participating in the event gave them a sense of what they could expect from working in the growing sector. The best groups will get advanced technical training and their solutions, if feasible, will be commercialized.
During the event, Iran’s IT Organization head Amir Nazemi said, “Such events can help provide young girls with a novel vision and help them acquire new skills.”
He added, “ICTs can be tapped for empowering girls and women. Technologies will enable them play a more active role in the socio-economic development of the country.”
His advisor for women affairs, Meshkat Asadi, said, “Women’s participation in the decision-making process can contribute to the national development. True, there are glass ceilings…But we will prevail.”
According to ITU data, over 357,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 11,100 events to celebrate Girls in ICT Day in 171 countries, contributing to bridging the gender digital divide.