Women in IT - Making Good Great
The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports (CBI) recently launched the four-year Netherlands Trust Fund (NTF) III programme with the aim of boosting export competitiveness in key sectors in four developing countries. A core goal of the programme is to increase competitiveness and export revenues in the information technology and IT-enabled services (ITES) sectors in Bangladesh, Kenya and Uganda.
The projects in these three countries aim to increase the number of women working within the IT and ITES industry. Alongside training and mentoring, the projects will focus on raising awareness about IT career options through on- and offline outreach events, business case competitions and media work.
Representatives from the Bangladeshi IT association, BASIS; Kenya’s ICT Authority; Uganda’s National IT Authority; Uganda’s ICT and BPO trade associations (ICT-AU and UBPOA); and Kenya’s IT and BPO association, KITOS; met in Dubai during GITEX, the global IT Expo (www.gitex.com) on 14 and 15 October 2014. The goal of the meeting was to define an action plan to increase the number and profile of women in IT as well as to provide a forum for participants to share experiences and insight from their own countries and efforts.
“The meeting in Dubai and the participation in GITEX allowed for the participants from the three countries to network, seek synergies and share experiences with each and with other international networks to get inspiration for new ideas and an international network to support and encourage their important work” says Anders Aeroe, Director, Division for Market Development at ITC. “The road ahead to increase the number and profile of women in IT is long: Women are completely underrepresented in IT and ITES although these industries offer tremendous job and entrepreneurship opportunities. The NTF III programme wants to contribute to improve women’s role in IT”.
The NTF III Women in IT meeting held in Dubai during GITEX was also an opportunity for NTF III project partners in Bangladesh, Kenya and Uganda to explore synergies around other topics, such as business development, branding, and market intelligence.
Barbara Birungi, Director of HiveColab and the Founder of Women in IT Uganda said, “The event was a unique opportunity to network with likeminded fellows on what we are doing in the women-in-IT space, particularly regarding the challenges we have in common and the solutions we could share. I believe that when knowledge and experiences are collectively shared the issue of the technological gender gap will soon be history.”
Eunice Kariuki, Deputy CEO, Kenya ICT Authority added, “I was aiming to identify and create synergies with peer countries on joint initiatives for promoting the role of women in developing ITES in the region: Mission accomplished! We want to build upon the dynamic value proposition of the broader NTFIII programme to make the sector more competitive and through that, open up opportunities for women in the sector.” Eunice went on to say, “I also learned from other countries’ experiences, specifically how to create local capacity for local players.”
Farhana Rahman, CEO of UY Systems Ltd and a founding member of Bangladesh’s IT association’s soon-to-be-established BASIS Women’s Forum, noted, “It is critical to bring the capability of women to this industry. These efforts will help both the industry and the women themselves. The summit in Dubai gave us an opportunity to exchange experiences and insights that will certainly benefit all of us in our efforts to open up economic opportunities for women in IT and ITES.”