There is an undeniable and yawning gender gap in the world of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). On the International Girls in ICT Day, we seek to bridge this digital divide by encouraging girls and young women to study and pursue careers in the ICT sector. This year’s theme, “Connected Girls, Creating Brighter Futures” underscores the critical relationship between technology, sustainability and progress.

According to UN Women, 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will have jobs that do not yet exist. Equipping girls with skills in coding, app development, computer science and other ICT competencies ensures their future professional and economic independence, as well as empowers them to become drivers of innovation and transformation. Male-dominated ICT fields also stand to benefit from the fresh, unique perspectives and experiences of women, who make up 50% of the global population but comprise just 30% of scientific and technological researchers.

With a skills shortfall of over two million jobs in the ICT sector within the next five years being estimated by The United Nations International Telecommunication Union, it is imperative that girls and women have the opportunities and training they need to fill those vital positions. The outdated stereotypes, unfair biases and lack of opportunities which are obstacles against their participation in the ICT arena must be tackled at the individual, community and national levels. I salute the many local and regional initiatives for their efforts over the years to break these barriers, including Caribbean Girls Hack 2019, the champions of which I had the pleasure of meeting, and the recent Tech4Girls event held by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago.

In this increasingly digital age, girls and women must be able to see technology and innovation as achievable and viable career paths. The integration of ICTs in everyday life, enhancing and transforming the way we do business, learn, interact and stay informed is becoming all the more important, especially in the era of Covid-19. I encourage all girls and women to join the technological march forward so that they, the tech industry and the nation can realise their full potential.