ICTs will create more opportunities for women and girls

As the Ministry of Public Telecommunications continues to highlight the importance of women and girls in the growing field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) across Guyana through several initiatives, a ‘Professional women in ICT’ luncheon was today hosted at Cara Lodge, Georgetown.

Minister Catherine Hughes speaking prior to the luncheon said it was conceptualised with the aim of providing an avenue for the women to network and look at areas of collaboration on future projects involving women and girls. It is her belief that more girls need to be encouraged to get involved in the careers that will become available in the ICT area.

“By 2025 they are saying 70 percent of all jobs are going to be in Information Communication Technology and we [government] just want to make sure that we are ready, so the Ministry is working on creating opportunities where we are connecting people to the internet in schools and the Hinterland,” she noted.

Nicole Pitter Patterson, Co-Founder, SheLeadsIt.
Nicole Pitter Patterson, Co-Founder, SheLeadsIt.

The Minister said the focus is being placed on training and education, hence the Ministry continues to collaborate with the Ministry of Education and the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD).

The event precedes the ‘Girls in ICT’ day being observed tomorrow. The Minister said interaction with Co-Founder, SheLeadsIt, Nicole Pitter Patterson will allow the women to get a sense of how Guyana is connecting with what is happening regionally.

The SheLeadsIt, Co-Founder said her organisation aims at empowering women enterprises globally and has been partnering with local organisations. For this year the organisation has reached over 800 girls in Guyana and across the Caribbean.

Marcia Thomas, Head of Information and Communication Technology, NCERD.
Marcia Thomas, Head of Information and Communication Technology, NCERD.

Marcia Thomas, Head of Information and Communication Technology at NCERD, said contrary to perceptions, ICT has always been an integral part in terms of meeting the needs of children with learning disabilities through the use of learning software to improve their performances.

“What we are now concentrating on is making sure that our teachers and students are ready for the world of work. Our teachers being able to teach ICT at various levels and our students being ready for what’s coming.”

Echoing similar sentiments as the Minister, Thomas said within five years, especially with the emerging oil and gas sector, there will be a plethora of jobs available directly related to ICT, therefore the Education Ministry is in preparation mode.

“Guyana is poised to be able to provide those specialists, those technologically savvy people because contrary to what people believe our children are using ICTs, we are using ICTs every day so we have to think ICT now, we have to live it,” Thomas emphasised.

Reference was made to the ‘Guyana Girl Code’ programme and the STEM Guyana Robotics clubs across Guyana as some of the initiatives being promoted by NCERD and the Education Ministry, specifically aimed at empowering girls in the field.

Akola Thompson, Founder, Women’s Wednesdays Guyana.
Akola Thompson, Founder, Women’s Wednesdays Guyana.

In Guyana, an ICT Tech lab will be developed led by Geotech Vision, which will see 55 girls from 11 schools and the University of Guyana engaged in web development activities. This will be followed by the hosting of a hackathon in July 2018, which will be larger and feature more “hands-on” activities.

Additionally, a partnership between the Public Telecommunications Ministry and the group Women’s Wednesdays Guyana, founded by Akola Thompson will see the creation of the “Report abuse Guyana” website, where cases of sexual violence can be reported.

This is in an effort to strengthen the reporting mechanism in Guyana. She noted that the current website is functional, however, the goal is to expand the reach across all ten administrative regions, hence a new website will be created in collaboration with Intellect Storm.

Confidentiality, Thompson said is a major concern and the new website will ensure the seamless passing of data across networks.

‘Girls in ICT’ will kick off tomorrow with an exhibition at Duke Lodge, Kingston.

Source: Stacy Carmichael – DPI



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