World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is marked across the world on 17 May, in recognition of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention on that date in 1865. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an organ of the United Nations that works on issues of information and communication technologies was born from that first convention, and organizes the annual event worldwide.
The theme for the 2012 event was announced as Women and Girls in ICT. The ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré released a Call to Action in line with that theme which included the following recommendations:
- Promote national policies encouraging girls, teenagers and women to study and take up careers in ICT.
- Support ongoing work aimed at building capacity that will enable women and girls to independently and competently use ICTs.
- Develop and implement national policies to restructure current education systems and infrastructure with the objective of integrating science and ICT-related subjects with mainstream curricula to better respond to present industry needs and standards as well as future ICT workforce requirements.
- Develop broadband connectivity and inclusion for all, in particular women and girls, through broadband backhaul, wireless or wireline, and including satellite communications.
- Connect all institutions, in particular schools, and encourage them to foster gender equality.
In addition to projects and programmes targeting women and girls as noted above, organizations across Africa hosted special events during the entire week. Computer Aid International’s Africa Regional Office was invited to take part by giving presentations at functions in Kenya and Tanzania.
17 May 2012 in Nairobi, Computer Aid Director of Africa Programmes Gladys Muhunyo made a panel presentation at a one-day event hosted by the Communications Commission of Kenya. Muhunyo spoke on the topic “Investing in ICTs for Development: A Computer Aid Perspective” to a diverse group that included policy makers and ICT leaders in Kenya. Muhunyo highlighted Computer Aid’s work in the area of Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) by supplying affordable computer equipment to areas of most need across the world. Computer Aid supports that work with ICT technical skills exchange and local capacity building. When thinking specifically about targeting ICT4D solutions to women and girls, Muhunyo notes, “Positive attitude, mentorship and local champions are a must. We have to shape up not just in skills but also in competitiveness within the provision and deployment of solutions across all sectors.” She also called for deliberate, women-centered policies to promote ICT for women.
Computer Aid’s Training Coordinator, Kristen Houlton, travelled to Dar es Salaam for a two-day event hosted by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority. Her 17 May 2012 presentation, “Empowering Women with ICT Skills to be Drivers of Development: The Computer Aid International Model” was given before an audience including government, civil society, local Tanzanian ICT service providers and students. Houlton gave a rationale for the focus on the women as a part of the capabilities approach to development, and detailed how Computer Aid’s Training Partnerships Initiative that was launched in December 2011 works in the direct service of development. After highlighting various training initiatives that are of unique benefit to women, including courses in social media and e-learning, the Training Coordinator focused on the special case of Computer Aid’s work on advocacy and training regarding e-waste (obsolete electrical and electronic equipment).
To learn more about Computer Aid International’s work empowering women with ICT solutions and skills, contact Kristen Houlton Training Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org