Why Girls in ICT Day matters in Thailand – and beyond
This year, girls and young women are celebrating Girls in ICT Day virtually in Thailand. Together with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) and the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) of Thailand, ITU launched the event on 17 August 2020. Key supporters of the event include UNESCAP, FAO, UNESCO, Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), Cisco Systems, and DTAC.
The celebration was attended by nearly 300 high school students and teachers who represent different ethnicities and minority groups from across Thailand. Participants connected remotely to the event, whose sessions were held in various locations in central Bangkok using the Webex system provided by Cisco. For some girls and women in remote and rural areas, it was their first time attending a virtual event, with some excitedly waiting for more than one hour in anticipation of the launch.
Continuing the Girls in ICT Day legacy
International Girls in ICT Day is an ITU initiative that dates back to 2011. Since then, over 377,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 11,400 celebrations of International Girls in ICT Day in 171 countries worldwide. This year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholders across the globe marked the day by organizing virtual celebrations, including live dialogues, virtual hackathons, mentoring and networking sessions, and various trainings on coding, robotics, mobile application building, digital art and more. More than 50,000 girls and young women took part and benefitted from these activities, and Thailand is no exception.
The Girls in ICT Day Thailand programme features leadership and training tracks, to inspire girls and women to pursue studies and careers in science, technology and the ICT sector. The Leadership, Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Smart Farming tracks are organized respectively by UNESCAP, FAO, UNESCO, APT, CISCO, DTAC and CCDKM until 17 September. These programmes are expected to enhance their awareness and skills not only in technology but also in leadership, e-agriculture and entrepreneurship.
Inspiring a new generation of ICT leaders
To kick-start the celebration, Ms. Ajarin Pattanapanchai, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society officially opened the Girls in ICT Day Thailand. This was followed by the first activity: a female leadership programme organized by APT. It brought female leaders and role models to a leadership session to encourage girls and young women to join the technology sector.
Ms. Misako Ito, Adviser for Communication and Information UNESCO Bangkok, delivered an inspiring message to encourage girls and young women in Thailand. “Education in the field of STEM is a driver of innovation and economic growth and studies have reported that girls’ achievement in ICT skills was higher than boys, yet their confidence in those skills was lower,” she highlighted. “This is why we have to identify strategies to overcome social and psychological barriers to keep highly skilled girls and women in the fields of STEM and ICT.”
Girls in ICT Day alumni Ms. Manita Vivatsethachai also shared her experience at the event. Having been inspired by the previous celebration, she decided to start her own company as a founder and director of PakDone, a sustainable waste management solution hub in Thailand. Her story resonated with the girls and women attending the event, and encouraged them to pursue entrepreneurship, leadership roles and technology innovation.
Supporting innovation with digitally empowered girls and women
Digitally empowered girls and women can help support and lead innovation as well as essential functions of society and economy, such as recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and building back better with digital technologies. The ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific is at the forefront of such digital inclusion and digital empowerment efforts.
Girls and young women in Thailand have the opportunity to experience and benefit from Girls in ICT Day celebrations together with the high level speakers, female leaders, role models and other students wherever they are, even in rural areas. Technology continues to transform the way we connect for events like Girls in ICT Day, which matters as it contributes to the positive development of aspiring ICT leaders in Thailand and beyond.
All images courtesy of the ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.