Celebrating Girls in ICT: A Call to Leave No One Offline

The role of ICTs in our lives has become a game-changer in many ways, including advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The role of Information Communications and Technologies (ICTs) in our lives has become a game-changer in many ways, including advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the presence of ICTs has been more important than ever to keep us connected, and to keep vital services and businesses going.

On April 22nd, 2021, the United Nations in Indonesia celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Girls in ICT at the High-Level Segment. The event was held virtually with speakers from the United Nations in Indonesia, ITU Asia Pacific, the Ministry of Communications and Informatics, the Ministry of Women and Child Protection in Indonesia, and the National Disaster Management Agency.

Although virtually, the spirit of inclusion and the need for equality was felt through our screens. Speakers emphasised the importance of girls and women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) across all sectors to bridge the gender divide. In the words of Valerie Julliand, the UN Resident Coordinator in Indonesia, "ICT is at the heart of the UN's mission. It brings us closer to the people we serve, distributes aids, supports marginalised groups, prevents them from being left behind on access to technology. Leaving no one behind means leaving no one offline."

Since 2011, the Girls in ICT Day aims to inspire a global movement to increase the representation of girls and women in technology. Atsuko Okuda, ITU Asia Pacific Regional Director, reminds us that this event “is about providing access, using ICT in a meaningful way” while also “contributing to the achievement of SDGs. My message for Girls in ICT Day: stay determined, dream big, sky is no longer the limit.”

The issue in Indonesia is that although females make up 59% of all graduates, only 35% graduate from technology degrees, and just 18% make it to senior management positions. To address the issue, this year’s Girls in ICT campaign invited students from high school and university categories in Indonesia to participate in a multimedia content competition. Six students impressed the judges with their creative submissions and received cash prizes and scholarships. This event reminded us that Girls in ICT is essential to help achieve gender equality, and build stronger communities and economies.

The COVID-19 pandemic and disaster situations signal an urgency to increase digital literacy and access to STEM-related fields for all females. We need girls in ICT to help solve many of the world’s most pressing challenges. Their inclusion in ICT, particularly in the face of the pandemic, will empower females to cope with the socioeconomic fallouts from unprecedented problems. The cost of inaction to promote girls in ICT could worsen gender inequalities. There is no reason why girls and women should be left behind.

Read the event coverage here: https://twitter.com/UNinIndonesia/status/1385094021467361281

Written by
Andri Suryo
Communications Officer
UN entities involved in this initiative
International Telecommunications Union
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
United Nations Information Centre