By Naa Korkoi Essah; Head, PR, Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation (Ghana)
In Ghana, “Girls in ICT” refers to the initiative aimed at encouraging and empowering young girls and women to pursue careers in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. The initiative is part of a global effort by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to bridge the gender gap in the technology industry.
Ghana has made significant progress in promoting gender equality in ICT, but there is still room for improvement. The country is working towards increasing the number of women in ICT by offering mentorship, training and educational programs. By promoting girls in ICT, Ghana hopes to build a more diverse and inclusive technology industry, as well as support the development of the country’s digital economy.
Additionally, various organizations and government bodies in Ghana are taking steps to support Girls in ICT initiatives. These efforts include scholarships, internships, and mentorship programs aimed at providing young women with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the ICT sector.
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However, despite these efforts, the representation of women in ICT remains low in Ghana, with a significant gender gap in terms of access to technology and participation in the digital economy. To address this issue, there needs to be a continued effort from all sectors of society to promote Girls in ICT and encourage young women to pursue careers in technology.
In addition to government and private sector initiatives, non-government organizations (NGOs) and advocacy groups are also playing a significant role in promoting Girls in ICT in Ghana. These organizations are focused on creating awareness about the opportunities available in the ICT sector for women, as well as providing support and resources to young girls and women who want to pursue careers in technology.
THE MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATION’S AND DIGITALISATION’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE GIRL’S IN ICT SO FAR
The Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation, under the stewardship of Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister for Communications and Digitalisation (MP, Ablekuma West), since 2017, has adopted the Girls-In-ICT initiative, as a platform to equip girls between the ages of 9 and 15 years (Upper Primary to Junior High School), with knowledge and skills in basic ICT and Coding.
Introduced in 2012, the programme is implemented with support from Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) as the technical resource provider, with training by Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence (KACE). The programme is also supported by MTN Ghana, National Communications Authority (NCA), American Towers Company (ATC) and others.
It involves a five-day training of selected girls from the participating region in basic ICT and coding, through which the girls explore the world of technology through the creation of websites, computer games and animation stories, using Scratch.
The program has the following components:
- Training of 100 selected Teachers from across the selected Region
- Training of 1,000 Girls in ICT from across all the districts within the selected Region
- A Mentorship session whereby women currently working in the ICT Field share their personal and professional experiences with the Girls-in ICT, to encourage and guide them in their future careers and endeavours
A Climax Event that involves the following:
- Presentation of awards for best-performing Girls in ICT
- Remarks by coaches and mentors
- A Speech by the Honourable Minister
- Presentation of certificates to all girls
An Open Day experience where the best 100 girls from a number of Girls from the selected Region where the Programme had been held, are brought to Accra for a week to tour the Offices of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), select Tower Companies and Companies in the ICTs industry, select MoCD Agencies, and interact especially with women in the industry.
Achievements between 2017 and 2022:
- 7,000 Girls have been trained & mentored (Ashanti, Western, Central, Oti, Western North and North East, Bono East, Bono and Ahafo regions).
- 700 Teachers trained to train more girls in ICT, beyond the programme
- 163 Cyber labs have been set up
- 1,134 laptops given to teachers and top-performing girls
The Ministry has also introduced the Girls-in ICT at the tertiary level to encourage young Ladies’ interest to pursue careers in ICT. This is being done in partnership with Huawei Technologies, Ghana, Limited.
In September 2021, 50 (Fifty) female students from the University Students Association of Ghana (USAG) were taken through a Ten (10) day residential training programme in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data and Cyber Security. The students were divided into groups and made to develop business-oriented ideas and solutions to modern problems, and the groups with the most outstanding solutions to critical national issues were rewarded with deserving prizes.
The Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Huawei Technologies – Ghana, also educated 75,000 female Senior High Students in the Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Bono East, Bono, Northern, Oti, Ashanti and Ahafo Regions on Cyber Security as part of the Girls-in-ICT Programme in October 2021 and 2022 respectively.
It is worth noting, that in the quest to reach all young girls in Ghana regardless of location, the team as part of the SHS training on Cyber Security, crossed the Oti river to Krachi SHS and the Kete-Krachi SHTS. The team would continue to reach out to as many girls as possible.
In conclusion, there is a growing recognition in Ghana of the importance of promoting Girls in ICT and increasing the participation of women in the technology sector. Through a combination of government, private sector, and non-profit initiatives, young girls and women in Ghana are being empowered to pursue careers in technology and contribute to the growth of the digital economy.
It is important to note that closing the gender gap in the technology industry requires a continued and sustained effort from all sectors of society, and it is likely that the impact of Girls in ICT initiatives will become more apparent over time as more women enter the field and succeed in technology careers.