Wednesday and Thursday last week we celebrated the International Girls in ICT Day, which is coordinated by ITU. The idea behind the day is to invite girls from secondary schools and universities to spend the day at the office of ICT companies, government agencies and academic institutions so they better understand the opportunities the ICT sector holds for their future.
This year in Dar es Salaam the event was organized over two days together with Computing and Information Association (CIA), KINU and COSTECH, and sponsored by TCRA and UNESCO.
On April 24th, 48 girls from six different secondary schools went on a field trip to six different ICT companies (Seacom, tzNIC, Star Times, UhuruOne, Simbanet and Vodacom) to see what kind of workplaces they are, and how ICT companies can also be interesting for women. After the company visits, everyone met at the KINU Hub for lunch and started to work on their presentation about the visit for the following conference day. The day finished off with the always great Marshmallow Challenge – winning team waiting to be awarded next day.
The official Girls in ICT Day, April 25th 2013, was held at COSTECH in a conference format with over 160 girls from different secondary schools! Four keynote speakers, TCRA Director General Prof. Nkoma, COSTECH Director General Dr. Mshinda, TANZICT Chief Technical Advisor Ms. Kristiina Lähde and KINU Community Manager Mr. Johnpaul Barretto shared their views and stories about women’s role in technology. After the keynote speeches it was the participants turn to present their learnings and insights from the field trips to ICT companies. All the presenters were very excited about the company they had visited and they sent a strong message that there are a lot of interesting jobs for women with science and technology backgrounds, and “everyone needs to convince their parents and relatives that it’s ok for them to study sciences!”
A definite highlight of the day was breakout session with eight motivational speakers: Dr. Suzan Lujara, Dr. Ellen Kalinga, Ms. Zaituni Mmari, Ms. Rose Peter Funja, Ms. Holy Kamuzora, Ms. Magreth G. Philemon, Eng. Lilian Mwangoka and Ms. Imelda Salum. These Tanzanian women work as PhD lecturers and researchers in engineering and technology, telecommunication and network engineers, data managers, and software and security specialists in universities and ICT companies. Participants were divided into smaller groups and had a chance to listen to their stories, views and ask questions for almost an hour with two them.
After lunch our Innovation Space Managers Mr. Brian Paul and Mr. Jumanne Mtambalike (who also MC’d the event) covered some useful online resources for learning about IT, technology and sciences, including code.org, wolframalpha.com, khanacademy.org and w3schools.org. Winners of of the Marshmallow Challenge were awarded and participants received their certicates of Girls in ICT Days. Closing remarks were given by Prof. Elizabeth Kiondo, Executive Director of UNESCO National Commission.
The organizers have got very positive feedback from the participants during the two days and also afterwards, which begs the question what could be done consistently throughout the year to support women’s role in ICT and sciences in Tanzania?
Finally big thanks to all co-organizers for the hard work they put in to make the event happen, and to the sponsors for making the event possible.