The SADC Secretariat in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic Education and the Ministry of Transport and Communications commemorated the International Girls in ICT Day, which was held under the theme, "Expand Horizons, Change Attitudes." The commemoration was held at the Tsholofelo Community hall in Gaborone, Botswana on the 27th April 2017 and was attended by hundred (100) girls who are currently pursuing their studies in Standard five, six and seven at Boikhutso Primary School.
The International Girls in ICT Day is an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) initiative that aims to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICTs, enabling girls and technology companies to reap the benefits of greater female participation in the ICT Sector. International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated on the 4th Thursday in April every year.
The Assistant Minister of Basic Education, Honourable Moiseraele M. Goya, in his keynote speech noted the challenges and opportunities which were present to the girl-child in accessing and using of ICTs. He said that there was gender gap between boys and girls regarding accessing the ICTs. He said that the government of Botswana had ensured that the gender dimensions in regards to the ICT access, skills building and empowerment of the girl-child were given focus in its activities. He encouraged the learners to take the opportunity provided to them through these various initiatives by government to become distinct cohorts in development of policy and innovations in the ICT industry in Botswana.
Officiating at the same event SADC Senior Programme Officer for Communications and ICT, Mrs Cecilia Mamelodi –Onyadile called on the learners not to shy away from ICTs and technologies. She further told them that since they are children born in the information age and growing up in the Digital era, they should see an opportunity in the word Digital, and should ask the question that if Botswana is going digital and SADC is also going digital, how can I as a girl living in Botswana benefit the most from the opportunities in ICT? She called upon the learners to use their enquiring minds get into their school computer room to master how computers work, ask questions and learn the technology.
The high level segment was followed by a panel discussion from leading women in ICT and motivational talks under a panel discussion entitled "Empowering the Girl Child in the Digital Era." The panellists were drawn from Policy makers, operators, the Communications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) and young motivational speakers. The topics ranged from usage of social media; Cyber security and protecting the girl child to barriers and opportunities for girls in ICT. The girls made an impressive presentation to the audience which showcased their knowledge of ICTs, and which left the audience satisfied that the girls are ready to take up a career in ICT. The question and answer session was also lively and the children actively participated and asked questions to the presenters. The day concluded with a presentation of gifts to the School, including, a TV set, Set Top Box (STB) and an antenna enabling the school to access a digital TV Signal.