The ICT sector is one of the fastest growing industries in Bangladesh. The sector holds enormous opportunities for girls and women with the requisite skills. But stereotypes and discrimination continue to deprive girls of enhance to excel in this field.
In Bangladesh, there is approximate 70 percent gap in internet use, in the world’s least developed countries, the gap widens to higher percent in Bangladesh for girls and women. Enhancing the use of ICTs to empower girls and women is an explicit target of Sustainable Development Goal 5.
Current and emerging technology is fundamentally altering the job market, the type of jobs that will exist in the future and the skills that will be required for those jobs. Girls and women have already low participation that put them at risk to lose out even future. Girls and women are at risk of losing out on tomorrow’s best ICT job opportunities, where in the public or private sectors, or as employee or entrepreneur.
Responding to these challenges and opportunities Bangladesh Institute of ICT Development (BIID), BRAC, Plan International Bangladesh and PreneurLab organized an event to mark the ‘International Girls in ICT Day-2018’ at the capital’s Brac Centre Inn where Hon’ble Speaker to the National Parliament, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury were present as chief guest; ICT State Minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak, MP as special guest along with dignitaries in IT and development sector and 100 more youth were also presents at this occasion.
Hon’ble Speaker Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury emphasized on to familiar the ICT opportunities in a positive way across the country, also to make it popular amongst the girl and women; she also urges to realize that ICT is sector as ‘Lucrative Professsion’ so that girls become more interested to pursue their ICT career for future prospect of the country. Speaker also stresses to give equal priority both in rural and urban areas as well as to provide incentives through ‘ICT Scholarship’.
State Minister for ICT, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, MP told that every year around 20 lac youth are entering in the labor market and for those to create employment opportunity; by 2021 present government will train3 lac youth on ICT and by 2030 women and men will have equal opportunity in ICT sector
The study findings show that Bangladesh needs more girls and women to join the workforce to comfortably reached the country into a middle-income status by 2021. Bangladesh can raise its GDP growth by 1.6 per cent if the female labor workforce is increased form current 33.7 per cent to 82 per cent, a figure at par with the present male labor participation rate in ICT sector. But studies show that not enough young people especially young women are choosing careers in ICT. Encouraging women and girls to pursue ICT careers can fosters a more dynamic technology sector, achieving extensive benefits for companies too.
Recently Plan International Bangladesh conducted a study ‘Breaking through the Glass Ceiling’ was conducted amongst 164 girls in different universities which identified social barrier, family restrictions, lack of motivations and technical knowledge and security for future prevents them to choose ICT as a field of study.
When they were asked the key challenges to get enrolled in ICT education; the girls identified stereotype mentality of society that related ICT education and career with men; intimidated by technology; lack of knowledge of ICT education and career as well as lack of logical skills gap.
The girls were also asked what initiatives do they need to be taken to increase the number of girls in ICT educational institutions? They came up with some realistic examples of creating safe and inspiring work place, change in perception; creating ICT awareness through campaign and by increasing technological education.
The panel discussants raised the issue of breaking barriers and empowering girls in ICT. In Bangladesh if we want girls as creators of technology and digital solution, we have to go a long way. That’s why we focus on removing the barriers first so that more and more girls get interested in technology and pursue career once they completed their study.
Government should modernize the national curricula of ICT and digital technology education, and actively support girls’ participation in these subjects, to prepare them to thrive in the jobs in the future.
ICT sector and employers also should pay attention to create a girls and women friendly gender sensitive job environment to bloom where girls and women will feel free to grow and develop. The most important part that we should pay extra concentration to our girls from hard to reach areas where even education is not available.
The event started with the welcome speech by Tania Nusrat Zaman, Plan International Bangladesh and shared a presentation on research findings and best practices by Shahid Uddin Akbar, BIID. Also, K A M Morshed from Brac & Rabiul Alam Chowdhury of Plan International Bangladesh highlighted the Initiatives required to make Bangladesh an ICT friendly nation for girls. The event was chaired by Rakhshanda Rukham of PreneurLab.