Women in ICT Forum launched

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The Department of Communications (DOC) aims to transform the ICT industry by placing women at the forefront of the sector.

Speaking at an SA Communications Forum (SACF) meeting yesterday, communications minister Dina Pule announced that the DOC's Gender and ICT Strategy has been finalised.

"This strategy includes a number of initiatives that seek to ensure the entrance and inclusion of women throughout the ICT sector."

Female trailblazers

Pule also announced the launch of the Women in ICT Forum.

"As part of government's broader goal towards the empowerment of women and the attainment of gender equality, the Women in ICT Forum will develop the next generation of women leaders in the industry.

"We need to provide women in the sector with the exposure and experience vital to ensure their success. Our country has a rich history of women trailblazers and we need to breach the final frontier in the ICT field."

She implored leaders in the ICT sector to foster the project.

Forming perceptions

The minister also said 11 October was the first United Nations International Day of the Girl Child.

"To mark that day, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) launched a 'Tech Needs Girls Prize', an international technology competition designed to encourage more girls to embrace technology."

Pule said with over 95% of jobs having a digital component and the ICT industry worldwide experiencing a decline in the number of women entering the profession, the competition targets girls between the ages of nine and 18 at a time when their perceptions about the industry are being formed, and their career paths are being chosen.

During the June school holidays, the DOC hosted 10 schoolgirls as part of the Techno-Girl programme. This initiative places girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in a structured job-shadowing programme.

"It exposed them to the world of work and the dynamic ICT field in a manner that no career guidance lesson could," said Pule, encouraging industry players to do the same.

She also mentioned the e-Cadre programme, which trains young people between the ages of 18 and 25 in the universally accredited International Computer Driving Licence.

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