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Girls in ICT

Published on : 11 May, 2022

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Participants in Group Photo

The Commission, as Eswatini’s representative at the International The Commission, as Eswatini’s representative at the International Telecommunications Union, commemorated the Girls in ICT initiative last week Thursday, 28 April 2022. This is an annual event that is meant to draw attention to the critical need for more girls and women in the ICT sector. Globally, less than 30% of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professionals are women and in tertiary institutions, there is approximately half the number of girls studying STEM subjects compared to boys. With this inequality persisting through the 21st century, the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion of women in STEM is dire. The main goal of Girls in ICT is to cultivate the presence and digital skills of young women and girls [aged 12-24] in the career field of STEM, particularly ICT.

The 2022 theme was Access and Safety, exploring the barriers and dangers that impact girls’ effective participation in ICT careers and ultimately, the digital economy. The global Internet user gender gap stands at 12.5 percent and unfortunately, if women are unable to access the Internet and feel safe online, they are consequently unable to develop the necessary digital skills and engage in digital spaces. The Commission successfully hosted the 2022 event and girls from different schools in Eswatini were part of the commemoration. A total of eight schools participated in the event; physically and virtually. Schools that attended the main event at Esibayeni Lodge were St Micheals High School, St Theresa High School, Swazi National High School, and Manzini Central High School. The schools that joined the event virtually were Dwaleni High School, Lozitha High School, Jubukweni High and Primary School, and Siteki Nazarene High School.

Through the event the students had an opportunity to hear from other girls studying ICT, girls successfully thriving in ICT careers, and a motivation encouraging them to consider ICT as a viable career option. Speaking during the event were Ivy Dlamini a UNESWA Computer Science student who covered the challenges she has encountered as a tertiary student in ICT, Lindokuhle Hlongwane who is a Business Systems Analyst at EEC who spoke about her experience working in the male-dominated working environment, Audrey Mnisi, a Swazi who has made it in the ICT sector and currently holding a position of Banking Ops, Risk and Cyber Security Executive in the Ghana Association of Banks. Other speakers include the MTN Eswatini CEO, Mr. Mtshali who spoke on the role companies are playing to support advancement of women in the ICT space and Dr. Ntombenhle Dlamini from the Ministry of Education encouraged the students to focus on personal and career development which is critical to their success.

The ESCCOM Chief Executive was represented by the Director for Legal and Compliance, and spoke on the different initiatives by the Commission to encourage and support girls in Eswatini to consider ICT as a career field. Ms. Lindiwe Dlamini, the Director for Strategy and Economic Regulation, echoed the importance of empowering girls to choose a career in ICT as it can be a major accelerator of socio-economic development at the national level. She also unpacked the Girls in ICT Development Program which is applicable to the girl child who has the aspiration to pursue an ICT-related profession. During the event, an official handover to the first recipient of the Girls In ICT Development Program sponsorship was made by the CE and the EXCO members present. This scholarship caters for full tuition, transport, prescribed textbooks, and a monthly stipend to cater for boarding and meals. The inaugural recipient, Unathi Dlamini, expressed her heartfelt gratitude to ESCCOM for the sponsorship and encouraged all students to focus on their studies and consider a career in ICT. She is currently pursuing her BSc in Computer Science at the University of Pretoria.

Over 300 students participated in the event and they were also grateful for such an opportunity which was evident from the comments they made and questions they asked during the event.