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Americas Girls Can Code: Leveling the tech playing field for girls and women

We already know that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential to improve lives quickly and radically. But it is no secret that opportunities unlocked by ICTs are seldom distributed equally, and often remain inaccessible to people in specific groups or social demographics. One of these groups is women and girls, which is why ITU has prioritized promoting digital inclusion for all through initiatives such as Americas Girls Can Code (AGCC). Aims and achievements The initiative – launched by ITU in 2019 and inspired by the African Girls Can Code Initiative, contributes to the EQUALS vision as well as to the goals of International Girls in ICT Day by helping to bridge the gender digital divide and inspire girls and young women to enter the tech sector. Americas Girls Can Code aims to contribute to the development of girls’ digital skills by promoting coding, robotics and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities, with the objective of raising awareness about the possibilities and benefits of pursuing careers in ICTs. Overcoming 2020 challenges When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, ITU rose to the challenge of creating an online version of AGCC, capitalizing on the opportunity to expand and scale this initiative throughout the Americas region. This year, AGCC was held in two separate editions, one in Spanish and one in Portuguese for girls and young women throughout Latin America and from Brazil. Thanks to the support of 25 different partners from the public and private sectors, as well as academia and other UN agencies, more than 7,000 participants from 23 countries registered to attend a number workshops and livestreams on digital skills and more. Girls across the Americas took part in online workshops on a variety of subjects, such as digital careers, leadership, programming logic and bot development. The livestreams were offered to encourage and inspire girls and young women to consider the ICT field as an option for their professional futures. More to come in 2021 AGCC is far from over, with more activities already planned for 2021. AGCC represents a unique platform to connect and engage girls across the Americas in the development of digital skills, with the benefit of leverage from global initiatives such as International Girls in ICT Day and EQUALS. From the ITU side, organizers reported seeing how girls and young women are more excited than ever to be a part of the tech universe, a clear demonstration that leveling the playing field to make room for more women in technology is a win-win for all stakeholders involved. When it comes to the beneficiaries themselves, teacher Danielly S. Ferreira from Brazil commented on her students’ eagerness to participate:

“[…] I could see the commitment of each one in participating, the happiness of having completed the courses, and how significant this was in their lives – that they may reap the benefits in their careers.”

From the Dominican Republic, Nathalia Ovalles shared how “these workshops really helped us a lot. It helps not only in school or in any activity we have, but it is something that will be useful for life.” Melody Araya Cortés from Costa Rica, asked to be contacted in the future for other workshops and livestreams, to continue learning and developing her digital skills.

“I learned a lot in these workshops. I am going to apply every lesson to my life, to be able to be a person with a successful mentality,” she declared.

To learn more about the Americas Girls Can Code (AGCC) initiative and to get involved, get in touch with the ITU Americas Regional Office here.


Image credit: ITU

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