The national government through the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs has initiated mechanisms to empower young girls to build their skills and capacity in tech fields.
ICT Chief Administrative Secretary Maureen Mbaka while speaking during the ISACA Governance, Risk and Compliance Conference in Kisumu County Friday said the government and other likeminded partners are committed in addressing the inequity in Information Technology (IT) to create a healthy digital world that is safe, secure and accessible for all.
According to Mbaka, to ensure the value of diversity in technology, players in the sector must foster greater gender equality in the labour market, boost economic growth and build a more inclusive digital world devoid of gender bias.
“Women are under-represented in ICT jobs, top management and academic careers and reports show that men are four times more likely than women to be ICT specialists. At 15 years of age, on average, only 0.5 per cent of girls wish to become ICT professionals, compared to 5 per cent of boys,” she disclosed.
To foster gender equality, the ministry has rolled out the Girls in ICT Initiative Kenya Chapter that aims at igniting their interest to take up Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics and ICT.
The program holds monthly ICT related activities that young women and girls can participate in to encourage them take up careers in the sector.
The initiative also creates awareness on government projects, and resources in the ICT field such as the AJIRA Digital Program that seeks to empower young people to harness benefits of the gig economy and the Huduma White box aimed at assisting innovators to scale up their innovations.
She added that women-owned start-ups receive 23 per cent less funding and are 30 per cent less likely to have a positive exit compared to male-owned businesses.
“Concrete policy actions are needed to foster women’s and girls’ full participation and inclusion in the digital economy, while at the same time addressing stereotypes and social norms that lead to discrimination against women. That is the only way we can experience the true value of diversity in technology,” she pointed out.
The CAS said the ministry is working round the clock to ensure Kenya is at the forefront of the 4th Industrial revolution under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Digital Economy Blueprint promotes the development of digital skills as a key pillar in achieving Kenya’s vision of becoming a knowledge-based economy driven by ICT.
It is on this backdrop that the government has focused on the development of the ICT sector and promoted the growth and development of the sector through continuous skills development and capacity building.
To achieve the Big Four Agenda, technology is indispensable as it is a key enabler of socio-economic growth as envisioned in Vision 2030.
By Robert Ojwang’