International Girls in ICT Day has been celebrated in Mogadishu with the launch on an initiative to create gender parity in Somalia’s ICT industry.
Organized by Fursad.so in partnership with Somalia’s Research and Education Network (SomaliREN) and Ministry of Post, Telecom and Technology, the event was aimed at drawing the attention of policy makers, academia and the business sector on the challenges faced by girls in ICT.
Abdulkadir Mohamed, Fursad.so manager, presented a survey they conducted on the share of women in total number of graduates in ICT. He said out of the 1,233 ICT graduates in 2017 from 23 universities across Puntland, GalMudug, SouthWest, Benadir, Jubbaland and HirShabelle only 9% were female. He added the few who managed to graduate despite challenges face stereotypes and discrimination in accessing the scarce job opportunities.
Safiya Abshir who completed her computer science degree three years ago said the challenges women graduates face in the ICT sector are more than other sectors in Somalia. She said lack of ICT labs and internships; and disconnection between the courses offered at universities and the skills needed in the local market, make their education irrelevant.
The Minister of Post, Telecom and Technology, H. E. Abdi Ashur Hassan, who was the chief guest of the event, said he is touched by the figures of women graduates in ICT and the challenges they face in employment. He said he could see these facts at the Ministry as women with ICT background form less than 1% of the total Ministry staff and cannot help because of the freeze.
The Minister said he believes that young girls are incredible innovators who can come up with solutions to many of the problems we have if they are provided the right tools and environment. He said, “as charity begins at home, we will start from our Ministry, but we will also partner with other institutions, such as the academia and the private sector, including telecoms, to address these challenges at a national level.”
He acknowledged the successes made in the Communications Act and dotSO management and the increasing penetration of fiber internet in major cities, ICT will be one of the fastest growing fields in the years to come, offering some of the highest paid and most exciting careers. We’re working to open the door to a career in technology to as many young women as possible
“We can teach girls and women to love technology and use it for their life, such ash health, education, finance, etc and encourage them to pursue ICT as a suitable career. Together we can empower the next generation of women to thrive in ICT,” he concluded.