Ministry of Communication Technology
Abuja, Nigeria, 2013, April 25
The Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson has urged Nigerian girls to embrace careers in ICTs to bridge the career gap between the male and female gender in ICT
Mrs Johnson who made this call on the 25th of April at a ministerial programme to celebrate the Girls in ICT Day in Abuja in line with the International Telecommunications Union ITU global advocacy to get more girls into ICT, stressed that despite the advances recorded in ICT globally, there are not many women in ICT due to the perception that it's for geeks' or for males. The Minister added that the Ministry is encouraging girls to come into ICT in order to erase that perception. Mrs Johnson said ''When I was studying engineering I was one of 5 girls in a class of about 80. My daughter has just graduated in an engineering degree and she was also one of about 5 or 6 girls, so nothing has really changed in 30 years''
She decried the fact that despite the growing advocacy for women to embrace technology across the globe, nothing has really changed and many women are still not embracing the power of technology. Johnson added that ''we need to ask ourselves why and help remove all the barriers militating against girls and women embracing technology. Some of the barriers limiting women has to do with lack of support and encouragement and the Ministry will provide the necessary support by encouraging women to embrace careers in ICTs''
The International Telecommunications Union ITU in 2010 set aside the fourth Thursday of April every year for the celebration of Girls in ICT. The Girls in ICT Day is an international initiative, backed by ITU Member States in Plenipotentiary Resolution 70 (Guadalajara, 2010), to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in ICT.
The Minister invited the best girls in Sciences in their various schools to the one week programme of the Ministry in order to encourage and expose them to do more in sciences and increase the percentage of women and girls in ICTs. The girls in the course of the one week programme were exposed to the power of technology and its impact on development. They met with several female engineers and interacted with many role models during the duration of the programme that increased their enthusiasm for the ICT profession. Mrs Johnson enjoined the girls to be hard working, courageous and confident to speak out and be committed in the pursuit of their studies
She also emphasised that there are tremendous opportunities in ICTs for women and encouraged the girls who attended the event to embrace careers in ICTs to beef up the numbers of women in the industry. She added that there are different fields in ICTs that women can play key roles in and succeed. Eg software development, telecommunications, IT, space development, Electronic Engineering etc More women and girls, she stressed need to come into the ICT field to aid the development of the nation.
Johnson who encouraged the girls to work hard, stressed that ''you just need to work hard''. Women tend to think that our work will speak for us – sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. Speak out, work hard, very hard and don't be afraid! Women can do it if they try''. The highlight of the programme was recorded when thirty five girls who had excelled in sciences were presented with Vantium Tablet PCs to empower and encourage them to strive for excellence in ICTs.
Earlier, the permanent Secretary Dr Henry Akpan had flagged off the programme by encouraging the girls to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the Ministry as they commenced the programme to celebrate ''Girls in ICT Day to learn and excel.
In his closing remarks, the Director Planning and Research, Mr Wole Edun on behalf of the Honourable Minister and the Permanent Secretary thanked the students , teachers and the various schools represented for taking time out to grace the programme.
The programme was well attended by the management and staff of the Ministry, representatives of the Nigerian Communications Commission, the Managing Director of NITEL, Hajia Zainab iiyasu-Saab, teachers and students of various schools in Abuja .
The Minister was pleased with the enthusiasm the girls showed on their visits to some of the ICT outfits the girls had visited during the course of the programme. The girls had visited Mobile Telecommunication Network(MTN) where Engr Aminu Alhakim, the Senior Manager-Network and Regional Operations Abuja took them round their facilities and explained how they coordinate individual calls, manage credits for calls and connect individual calls to network calls. They also visited Galaxy Backbone, responsible for hosting of sites and maintennce for Federal Government Ministeries, Departments and Agencies(MDAS). The girls were also taken by the Ministry on a facility tour of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (Nigcomsat) and Hauwei facility where they were briefed on the configuration and effects of Data centers, Base stations, space communication etc. The girls were shown round the space facility by both male and female Engineers. But they were fascinated by the female Engineer who roused the interest of the girls by thoroughly explaining the benefits of satellite communications to development. The Engr who lamented the gender disparity in the number of female participants in the ICT field, called on the girls to embrace careers in ICTs in other to increase the number of females in the sector. Girls from Capital Science cademy Kuje, Junior Secondary School Life Camp, Regina Pacis College Garki, Federal Government Girls College Bwari, Community Secondary School Asokoro and Government Secondary School Jabi in Abuja participated in the programme.