Today, April 28, 2016, is International Girls In ICT Day. Celebrated on the fourth Thursday of April every year since 2011, this day is meant to encourage girls and women to join careers in the ICT field.
And boy do we need more women pivoting the direction technology is taking our country: women make up 54 per cent of Rwandan labour force but account for less than 20 per cent of IT professionals.
In fact, all one has to do is walk into the kLab shared working space to witness this firsthand: the glaring lack of women conceptualizing and developing technology to shape and revolutionize various economic clusters in Rwanda is concerning.
Even though they play a relatively equal role as consumers of technology to improve their lives, women and girls reject or are indifferent towards contributing to the technology sector for a number of reasons, including limited knowledge of the sector and opportunities, growing up being told that the technology turf belongs to their brothers, and, very frequently, because there are few role models and mentors to look up to.
There really isn’t any concrete reason that the largest economic force and half of the market base in Rwanda is not actively playing a role in transformation of the economy through technology, and now the question is how to inspire more girls to become equal players amongst the upcoming generation of technology pioneers set to construct our digital world.
More and more jobs shall come from the tech sector with the advent of the fourth industrial revolution and if girls don’t participate in technology and related fields, they will be missing a massive opportunity but more so, technology is disrupting all industries, including agriculture, finance, fashion or even healthcare; women will have to make a full contribution to the disruptions across these clusters if our economy is to achieve its full competitive potential.
As part of celebrations for Girls In ICT week, on April 30, GirlsInICT Rwanda Chapter – in partnership with Ministry of Youth and ICT, Rwanda Development Board and the Imbuto Foundation – shall host the third Ms Geek Contest at the Kigali Serena
The contest is a culmination of a five-month journey: high schools and universities were toured by GirlsInICT members to talk about the contest and to issue a call for applications from girls around the country; each applicant was expected to identify a problem in their communities and propose a technology solution to the identified problem.
Out of a pool of over 130, five girls emerged as finalists – these brilliant ladies shall showcase their solutions at the Ms Geek contest on Saturday.
As a means to bridge the gender divide in the tech field, Ms Geek is meant to inspire girls to consider studies and careers in ICT fields and see their role in building Rwanda’s information society.
Eventually the narrative shall shift to one where women are active technologists and inventors and not passive consumers – hopefully this happens sooner than later. Hope to see you there!
Follow @GirlsInICTRW and @MsGeekRW for updates
The writer is a tech enthusiast and a member of GirlsInICT RwandaFollow https://twitter.com/rwandalavender