» Mobile Apps and Sustainable Development: UNESCO Celebrates Female Leaders and Entrepreneurs in the ICT Sector...
06.05.2016 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Mobile Apps and Sustainable Development: UNESCO Celebrates Female Leaders and Entrepreneurs in the ICT Sector during International Girls in ICT Day


UNESCO joined the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Senegal, Sonatel and Google in the last day of a month filled with activities undertaken in the framework of the YouthMobile initiative, with the aim to raise awareness, train, and promote young women and their professional development in the ICT Sector.

April 28th, International Girls in ICT Day, established by the ITU and celebrated in over 150 countries around the world, celebrates girls and young women and encourages them to pursue studies and careers in the ICT Sector through capacity building in coding, development of mobile applications, and IT.

In Dakar, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, the Ministry of Women, Family and Children, ITU, UNESCO, Article 19, Sonatel, and Google came together to celebrate and highlight Senegal’s economic growth through investment in girls’ education in the ICT sector. The objective of the celebration was to ensure gender equality between men and women and enable girls and young women to be powerful agents of change in a sector where men are the majority.

"Innovating, creating, and not only consuming, taking risks and working in teams will be the job of the future," said the moderator of the Panel on Women’s Leadership, part of the Celebration; "We must experiment, find what we love, and learn to use the tools at our disposal to create work that enriches us. "

"We live in the technological age, where social networks are very important. If used properly, they can be a window for visibility and business promotion” underlined the representative of Sonatel; “and if girls are the future, we must invest in them and in their development so that they can improve the living conditions of the society and community in which they live,” added the representative of the Ministry of Women, Family and Children of Senegal.

"Gender equality is one of our global priorities," continued the representative of UNESCO; "by supporting the initiatives of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Senegal, we ensure the sustainable reinforcement of the knowledge and capacities of women in the field of information and communication technology.”

Following a month of close cooperation between UNESCO and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Senegal to promote the development of mobile applications by young women, the celebration was an opportunity to embark on the next stage of cooperation between the two entities; the co-development of a mobile application called appGENRE. AppGENRE will educate the Senegalese population, and in the ECOWAS region more broadly, on gender, providing information on gender, and equality among young people in order to reduce gender inequality.

Beyond the announcement of the mobile application launch, jointly developed by UNESCO and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, as well as the prize of the Jiggen CI TIC contest organized at UNESCO on 23 and 24 April 2016, two round tables were held during the Celebration of the International Day: The first on the Development of mobile applications and their contribution to sustainable development, moderated by OSIWA with the participation of UNESCO, Google, Sonatel, and a woman digital entrepreneur and blogger, and the second on Female leadership in ICT with the participation of women leaders in the sector from Senegal.

"The celebration was very inspiring, with the exchange and sharing of experiences of women leaders in the ICT sector," commented in unison many young girls present at the celebration.

The question asked by the young girls on "why women should be involved in and passionate about the ICT sector" caught the interest of the women panelists, female bloggers, and entrepreneurs, each passionate and interested in experimenting with available technology and digital content on the web to ensure women are autonomous, able to solve local challenges for development of their communities, and work for the well-being of other women, girls and men through engagement in the ICT Sector. By sharing their stories and paths in the ICT Sector, they continue to serve as role models for young women with similar aspirations.

The month of joint activities between UNESCO and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications took place in the framework 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 to create viable employment opportunities in the mobile phone industry and ICT Sector.

UNESCO remains committed to promoting gender equality and quality education to achieve the sustainable development goals and to build a just and equitable world by 2030. Following the success of the month of activities carried out in the framework of YouthMobile, UNESCO, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Senegal, and Sonatel will develop a strategy to institutionalize and sustainably implement the training of young women in mobile applications in order to further position Senegal as a leading country in ICT, female entrepreneurship, and innovation.

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