By Peace Obi

To encourage active participation of Nigerian women and girls in the ever-growing permeation of ICT as well as its relevance in every career and other human endeavours, the UNITeS Cisco Academy, as part of activities marking this year’s International Women’s Day, organised series of workshops for secondary school girls with the theme ‘Internet of Everything: Opportunities for Women’ in Lagos recently.

The organiser, who noted that the technology sector in Nigeria is a rapidly growing one with a lot of opportunities for young people, regretted that despite the growth, women are still under-represented in the industry, hence the workshop for girls.

According to the Academy Support Contact of the academy, Mr. Toyin Olatayo, “the purpose of these workshops is in line with this year’s call for everyone to contribute towards achieving gender parity by helping women and girls achieve their goals in life.

“We believe that educating the girl-child has a positive effect on the development of the society. There is need to empower more girls with the right ICT skills which is why the academy through its ‘Mind Wide Open’ programme, gives thousands of girls in Nigeria advanced ICT skills training thereby equipping them for success in their chosen careers.

Olatayo, who commended all stakeholders for a successful workshop, said, “we are grateful for the support of the principals of the participating schools, partners, stakeholders and volunteers. The success of this initiative is due to your support.”

The workshops which held on March 9 and 10 at Queens College and Federal Science and Technical College (FSTC), Yaba respectively, sought to show the opportunities that abound for women in ICT and use the accomplishments of noble women in ICT to inspire the girls to pursue careers in ICT.

One of the participants, Miss Temilola Akinola, who thanked the organiser, described the workshop as an eye opener. “I previously thought ICT skills were not for me because I am an art students but this workshop has changed my perception.”

For Miss Echewodo Doris, the workshop awakened in her a strong desire to pursue a career in ICT. Another participant, Miss Somto Okegbuo, who distinguished herself through her brilliant presentation was given a standing ovation, she also won a Samsung Education Tab. Okegbuo who could not hold back her joy, thanked UNITeS for its interest in the development of Nigerian girls.

The workshop, which featured skills demonstration by the students, easy competition and presentation by the students on ‘Internet of Everything’, also had a Skype video conference session with Victoria Nwobodo, a US-based female IT professional with IBM.

Nwobodo, who advised the students to take off anything that seeks to limit their dream, also inspired them with her personal story of how she achieved her career goals despite the obstacles on her path after completing her secondary education.

The UNITeS Cisco Networking Academy is an innovative educative initiative established in 2007 with the objective of developing Nigerian youths in the use, support and maintenance of IT. The ‘Mind Wide Open’ programme is designed to encourage and increase participation of women in ICT.