Ensuring Role Models for Young Women in the ICT Sector: Open Door Days in Senegal with Women Leaders in Technology
“Having the opportunity to get to know the work of Government Agencies and private businesses that work with information and communications technology is very inspiring. Since I’m still in high school, this gives me the motivation to pursue my studies to become a computer engineer” shares Mariane, high school student in the suburbs of Pikine, a suburb of Dakar.
In the framework of the month long activities part of UNESCO’s YouthMobile Initiative and International Girls in ICT day, celebrated this year on 28 April, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Senegal, with the support of UNESCO, Sonatel and Google, organized three Open Door Days with the aim to present, raise awareness and promote young girls to work in the private sector and Government Agencies working with information and communications technology. The three days involved Neurotech partner schools, ESMT, IAM, ISM and Sup de Commerce of Dakar and a total of 15 high schools in Dakar and the suburbs, for a total of around 150 young girls aged 12 to 18 in the Open Door Days, with the objective to encourage young girls to undertake studies and careers in the scientific field, and especially in ICTs.
“With this day of awareness at ADIE- the IT State Agency- I learned to update the configurations of the social media that I use, and I will pay more attention to the messages that I am sharing on my profile” comments Fatouma, 15 years old.
The Open Door days took place at NEUROTECH (15 April), a private company specialized in technology in Senegal with a majority of women in top management positions; at ADIE, the IT State Agency (26 April) and DTAI (27 April), the Directorate of automatic information processing in Senegal.
“I really found interesting the quiz on social media, information on the time that an internet user in Senegal normally spends on these platforms (3 times more than any other online activities), the amount of people connected to the Internet at a global level (3, 2 billion people), and the profiles of mobile users” continues Mariane “this is something that I will take away above all after the Open Door Days of today”.
These Open Door Days allowed young girls in Senegal to get in touch with the information and communications technology universe, get inspired by women in the ICT field, and learn about and exchange ideas on their professions and experiences.
“Social media is a powerful force to communicate with others, exchange information, publish photos, have fun alone or together, plan trips and strengthen friendships, but we need to accompany these activities with smart and responsible use of social media, without giving too much personal information and always asking ourselves the question if our private lives can be in danger or if we can be virtually harassed” highlights the trainer at ADIE during her presentation; “with 7.396.940 internet subscribers in Senegal, 1.700.000 facebook users, and 262.000 young people less than 20 years old – 64 % boys and 36 % girls, mobile telephones in Senegal are used a lot by young people and the social media penetration in our lives is very high, with, in order, Facebook, Whatsapp, Messenger, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.”
Encouraging young girls to pursue a career in mobile app development is an integral part of UNESCO’s YouthMobile Initiative. Created in 2014 by UNESCO, the initiative offers introductory courses in computer programming (learning-to-code) and problem solving (coding-to-learn). The initiative targets young boys and girls to acquire basic technical skills and the necessary confidence for the development, promotion and marketing of mobile applications that address local sustainability issues. BY 2017, the initiative’s overall objective is to allow at least 25,000 young people to develop the skills of the 21st century to fully participate in addressing the challenges of sustainable development in their communities. The initiative introduces young people to entrepreneurship and to create viable employment opportunities in the mobile phone industry and ICT Sector.
In the framework of the YouthMobile Initiative, UNESCO places a particular emphasis on ensuring that young girls are provided with women role models in the ICT Sector to further guide and encourage them in choosing a career in information and communication technology. The month dedicated to girls in ICT ended with the official ceremony of the International Girls in ICT Day on April 28 at Hotel Radisson Blu, Dakar.
To learn more about the Open Door Days organized in Senegal, check:
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