To mark the first ever International Day of the Girl Child, ITU members and partners last week joined forces to launch the Tech Needs Girls Prize, a global technology competition designed to inspire more girls to embrace technology and invent the future.
Our future is being shaped by technology and, with over 95% of all jobs now having a digital component, the information and communication technology (ICT) sector is an exciting place to be. Yet, as a global shortage of ICT professionals looms and the uptake of girls and women into ICT-related study declines, research reveals that technology has an image problem. Put simply, too many talented young girls mistakenly consider an ICT career to be boring, geeky, uncreative or a career path that lacks the ‚’world-changing’ component many aspire to.
Working in partnership with lead players in the ICT, education and media industries, ITU’s new annual Tech Needs Girls Prize aims to dramatically shift perceptions. The prize targets girls between the ages of 9 to 18 at the very time when they start forming opinions about their place in the world and their choice of career path. ITU and its partners will name and tailor a suite of competitions to different specialist areas, offering girls around the world a variety of options to get involved, gain confidence in their abilities, demonstrate their creativity, explore their ‚’inner entrepreneur’ and learn first-hand how ICT can make a real difference.
‚”Empowering women and girls is a key part of ITU’s mandate of ‚’connecting the world’. I am looking forward enormously to seeing the imaginative submissions that will come in from girls right around the world, and hope that this new prize will encourage many of them to consider a future in this most exciting of industries,‚” said Dr Hamadoun I. Tour√©, ITU Secretary-General.
The Tech Needs Girls Prize 2013 will be awarded as part of the annual Girls in ICT Day celebrations. ITU is working with leading players including Cisco, Intel Corporation and the G(irls)20 Summit to inspire girls to take the tech challenge. Geena Davis, ITU’s own Special Envoy for Girls and ICT, will also be lending her voice and the important work of her institute to ensure that girls are better equipped to be leaders and creators in the world of technology. Full details of the prize, partners and the competitions will be released over the coming weeks.
The prize forms part of ITU’s Tech Needs Girls campaign, launched at Girls in ICT Day this year, which is leveraging the convening power of ITU to bring players in the ICT, education and media industries together. This global call to action aims to transform the wide-ranging number of programmes and organizational initiatives into a force for movement on the urgent issue of ensuring girls and women play a much more substantive role in the ICT sector and are better empowered to harness technology to transform their lives and their futures.
Last week also saw the launch of a mapping tool allowing all players to publicly pin their events and programmes to the campaign website. The crowd-sourced map provides a global picture of initiatives and enables girls and women to quickly locate initiatives available to them locally.
As the United Nations’ specialized agency for ICT, ITU has long championed the catalytic role ICT can play in empowering women and girls. In 2010, ITU membership established Girls in ICT Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in April every year and designed to raise visibility on the many exciting opportunities offered by an ICT career. For Girls in ICT Day 2012, over 1,320 events were held in nearly 90 countries, providing an estimated 30,000 young women with a better understanding of the opportunities offered by the ICT sector.
A multilingual Girls in ICT Portal has also been launched by ITU to assist girls and young women prepare for and pursue a technology career. The portal currently houses some 500 programmes, including over 100 scholarships, 70 contests and awards, more than 100 training and internship opportunities, over 100 online networks offering career support and mentoring, as well as tech camps and other activities.