“I have always been fascinated by technology and was always one of the few females in all my classes while in school,” says Kathreen Wafula, an ICT Support Technician here in Kilifi. She joins a strong team of techies and is one of the 4 women in the department.
The International Girl’s in ICT day is commemorated every fourth Thursday of April to create awareness on the critical need for more girls and women in the ICT sector. “The day brings to light the gender digital divide and begs for the need to support technology education and skills training for the girls and women in the society.” says Kathreen.
Last year, the online dialogue highlighted the importance of governments’ engagement in empowering women through technology and drew attention to role models and mentors and how they can inspire girls and young women to take up careers in the tech field. Kathreen says that she has observed how ladies are challenging this and is proud to be part of the change.
This year, on the 22nd of April, the theme: ‘Connected Girls, Creating Brighter Futures’ was set to encourage and inspire young girls to actively pursue careers in STEM as well as engage the community to promote collaboration through partnerships. “Having a career in IT has been nothing short of fulfilling. Working in IT Support and Service Delivery has allowed me to be an interface between technology and people/users. This is something I love doing as I help offer solutions to users with technological issues,” says Kathreen.
The outdated stereotypes, unfair biases and lack of opportunities which are obstacles against their participation in the ICT arena must be tackled at the individual, community and national levels. Kathreen then says that “I would encourage young girls not to shy away from Tech, it is not a boys’ thing. Take that internship, apply for those trainings, volunteer if you can. It goes a long way to build your foundation. Be curious about different technologies and how they work, ask questions. Ladies are conquering the world of Tech and so can you.”
In this progressive digital age, Kathreen is one of the few women determined to change the narrative about women in Tech. Girls and women should be able to see technology and innovation as attainable and worthwhile career paths. The integration of ICTs in everyday life improves and transforms the way we learn, interrelate and participate in business especially in this era of the covid19 pandemic.
By Keziah Njoki