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International Day of the Girl: Equipping Girls with Skills and Confidence in the Digital Age

On the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child, UNESCO, together with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) co-organized a panel discussion entitled “Equipping Girls with Skills for the Digital Age” in partnership with the Permanent Missions of Canada and the Federal Republic of Germany to the UN. Convening organizations and individuals at the forefront of bringing girls and women into tech, this panel discussed and demonstrated why it is important to support and encourage girls and young women to gain the skills needed to work in and lead in the digital economy.

Representing Member States, UN agencies, the private sector and civil society, speakers from Canada, Germany, UNICEF, ITU, Plan International and Verizon Foundation shared their commitments and initiatives to promote digital skills for girls. During interactions with the audience, panelists underscored intentional actions and deliberate policies to include women and girls in ICT-related programmes, especially those who are marginalized. They called for more concerted efforts to narrow the digital divide and ensure girls’ and women’s equal role in the digital world.

Mrs. Lily Gray, Senior Liaison Officer at UNESCO New York Office, highlighted the widening digital gender gaps as per UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report 2017/8. Women account for just 28% of ICT graduates globally, as girls report lower confidence, higher levels of anxiety, technophobia linked to socialisation and stereotypes about abilities. She called on stakeholders to invest more in programmes to build girls’ self-confidence and counter the impact of social gender stereotypes.

Mrs. Gray briefed the audience on the EQUALS Skills Coalition co-led by Germany and UNESCO, which aims to empower women and girls in acquiring skills that will help them become both ICT users and creators in the digital world. She also presented the findings of the Cracking the code report on girls’ and women’s education in STEM.  

Since 2012, 11 October has been marked as the International Day of the Girl Child. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. The 2018 theme of the Day is “With Her: A Skilled GirlForce”.

As the United Nations lead agency for education in the context of the 2030 Agenda, UNESCO is working with the international community so that girls can benefit from 12 years of basic education free of charge. It is committed to ensuring that States include in school curricula issues relating to gender equality, health and sexuality, so as to break with the social habits and collective representations that impede girls’ freedom and constitute barriers to their intellectual formation and social and professional integration. In order to encourage innovative teaching that helps girls to acquire the self-confidence they need and that will reduce gender inequalities, UNESCO established in 2015, with the support of the Government of China, a Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education. The 2018 laureates are the Misr El Kheir Foundation (Egypt) and the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (Jamaica).


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Posted on : Oct 19, 2018