The Director of United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Abuja, Ronald Kayanja, has advised girls and young women to aspire and acquire skills for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), insisting that these should not been seen as exclusive professions for male only.
Kayanja, gave the advice to schoolgirls at the 2023 International Girls in ICT Day, organised by UNIC in collaboration with Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.Tec) and Tek Experts on Tuesday at the UN House, Abuja.
Kayanja, who was represented by UNIC National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, said: “You must change the gender-based stereotypes that society has ascribed to certain professions and careers, especially those in STEM. You can only do this if you aspire and work hard in your studies and develop passion for ICT.”
He recalled that the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU) had estimated a skills shortfall of over two million jobs in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector within the next five years, and he therefore charged all schoolgirls and young women to acquire ICT skills to be well-placed for a successful career in the sector.
He further explained that UNIC and partners were working together to inspire and encourage girls to pursue a future in ICTs and to empower them by ensuring they have the necessary skills, confidence and support to achieve their goals.
Country Director of Tek Experts, Mr Gbolahan Olusanya, allayed the fears of the schoolsgirls about STEM and ICT, disclosing that his organisation had trained 500 girls who are all doing well in the sector.
He assured that: “There is nothing to be afraid of in acquiring ICT skills. You can do it. It is not as complicated as you think it is.”
Keynote Speaker and Founder/ CEO of NextWear Tech Hub, Mrs Kemisola Bolarinwa charged the school girls to always remember that they are the future of ICT, while acknowledging that: “We have the power to shape the future, to create new possibilities, and to transform the world through technology.”
She identified four important digital skills students should learn. These were Digital Literacy; Cybersecurity; Coding and Programming: and Digital Communication. She noted that: “By acquiring these skills, we can become more successful in our academic, personal, and professional lives.”
Bolarinwa emphasized and urged the participants to embrace the digital age and take advantage of the opportunities it offered.
Assistant Director of Bilateral and International Relations at the FCT Secondary Education Board (SEB), Mary Ajibola, disclosed that the management of SEB was unrelenting in promoting and encouraging girls to pursue their studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
She thanked the UN Information Centre and their partners for organising the event and extending invitation to three of the schools in FCT to participate.
Ninety girls from four Secondary Schools and the W.Tec ‘Make Her Space Girls’ attended the event. The schools were Model Secondary School, Maitama; Government Secondary School, Garki; Government Secondary School, Wuse and Premiere Academy Lugbe.
The International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated every 4th Thursday of April and the theme for this year’s observance is “Digital Skills for Life”.