By: Jerromie A. Walters
Congo Town, Liberia,: The Commissioner General of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA), Madam Maria Harrison has called on women and girls across Liberia to develop passion for Information Communication Technology (ICT) field in aiding development and respond to other challenges affecting Liberia and the world through technology.
She spoke at programs marking the celebration of International Day of Girls ICT, organized by the Liberia Information Technology Students Union (LITSU), in collaboration with the Liberia Telecommunications Authority, at Bluecrest University College in Congo Town.
Madam Maria Harrison while addressing a cross-section of STEM students and mentors, re-echoed the significance of ICT and it’s fast growing advancement in the world, but expressed dismay over non-interest of many girls to the sector.
“There are many different fields in ICT that women can play key roles in and succeed. For example, teaching ICT, software development, telecommunications, computer engineering, space development, Electronic and Electrical Engineering just to name a few,” the LTA Boss intruded.
However, Madam Harrison further noted that the Liberia Telecommunications Authority has also taken keen interest in promoting females in ICT Roles, through employments at high standards. “In the past 8 years, the female staff at the LTA has grown from 10% to a whopping 35% of the ICT team. We hope that in the next 4 years we get to see gender parity of 50:50 as we hire more female in ICT. Over the past years, we have also gotten involved in activities around the promotion of female in STEM including with student organizations such as LITSU and other STEM organizations including Society of Women Engineers, Liberia (SWEL), Liberia Society of Women Engineers, LSWE and the Engineering Society of Liberia (ESOL) which is the overall society comprising of female and male Engineers,” She said.
Madam Harrison however disclosed
strategic efforts by the LTA, and the Liberia Information Technology students, through the establishment of a mentorship program, to channel the essentiality of ICT for women and girls at all levels. “Today, the LTA in partnership Liberia Information Technology Students Union will formally launch a mentorship program called “ICT for Her” which will be centered around high school, university and newly working young women,” she announced..
However, the program endeavors to create a space for where mentees can tap into the knowledge, skills, and experience of Liberian women in STEM and get the needed skills to advance pursuit of STEM careers.
The program, as disclosed by the LTA Boss, will ensure the visitation of mentees to various schools, and organize events, in collaboration with LITSU and other partners and inorder to conduct one-on-one mentorship for females.
At the same time, the Deputy Mission Director of the US Embassy in Liberia, Mr. Joel F. Maybury expressed keen interest in promoting girls in STEM fields, but further urged female that are still pursuing education, to avoid distraction that might halt their schooling process.
Mr. Maybury further explained that if girls are to create passion or be effective in a specific field, it hugely depends on their willingness and patience to remain focus in school especially considering the several forms of distractions from affiliates or friends at school. “If I will not have nothing to say here today, please stay in school. Girls, go to school and stay in school, don’t let all the distractions get you out of school,” he added.
For her part, the President of the Liberia Information Technology Students onion Josephine L.P Koryon asserted that the need for technology for women is truly cardinal just as it is for men, to basically develop their marketable skills, enhance their economic opportunities, participate in informed decision-making, network, promote themselves as individuals as well as to participate in the modern world as equals.
She believes Women’s active participation in the ICT sector is essential for Liberia’s long-term growth and economic sustainability. LITSU President however expressed dismay in the poor representation of female in ICT in Liberia, noting that there remains a larger gender gap in Liberia’s ICT sector, despite efforts to ensure the full incorporation of women and girls.
“Women are underrepresented in the sector, particularly in technical and decision-making positions. ICT skills are rapidly becoming a strong advantage for students in just about any other field they might choose to pursue.
With girls safely access to explore the digital world, they can start to imagine future STEM careers, ICT education and futures in technology for themselves. Transforming Liberia through technology,” she explained.
International Girls in ICT Day which was established by ITU, celebrates girls and young women and encourages them to pursue studies and careers in the technology sector and the need to promote technology career opportunities for girls and women in the world’s fastest-growing sector.
The purpose of the event is to create a safe and diversify environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women in STEM to pursue their studies and careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies and to remove the existing perception that ICT is a Male’s field.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Girls Access & Safety in ICT” and the event is celebrated annually in over 150 countries around the world every fourth Thursday in April.
The Liberia Information Technology Students Union (LITSU) is the mother of all Information and Technology students in the Republic of Liberia, It is a student based organization which is supported by educators, parents, and business leaders who believe in a technologically literate society.
LITSU is the only national organization for ICT students that are engaged in technology. It provides ICT Awareness, ICT literacy training, solicit Internships and scholarships for deserving students and also encourage females involvement in ICT.