Bridging the gender gap; Girls + Tech

May 12 2019

Encouraging women to take up roles in Information technology (IT), is one key way to bridge the gender gap disparity, says Inter-American Development Bank country representative, Sophie Makonnen.

“Too often girls and women are not able to reveal their full potential in improving Guyana’s economy due to discriminatory social norms, lack of incentives… and girls tend to be underpaid,” Makonnen said.

The IDB representative was addressing the gathering at the Gala and Youth Reveal event hosted by Girls +Tech at the Umana Yana. The occasion saw students from the University of Guyana robotics club showcasing their work; awards were presented to several outstanding women in the field of technology, and prizes given to the winners of the essay competition – Girls and technology can change Guyana: The change I want to see in my community.

“Education unlocks girls’ potential, but education in science and technology can provide them with wings to fly, to transform not only their lives but the lives of others in their families and communities.”

Rajnie Persaud, a first-year student at the University of Guyana in Accounting, has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound. She wrote an essay on how the university and other public places/spaces can be made more accessible to persons with disabilities like hers. Though she was not awarded a prize, Persaud believes persons with disabilities have the power to pursue their dreams, as she will follow a career in Computer Science.

“We know the world is advancing in technology and more jobs are online where persons can work from home. Because of my disability, it’s harder for me to travel, so for persons like myself, it would be easier to work from home.” Co-founder of Sites Guyana, Evie Gurcharan, said her daughters are her motivation, and she wants them to benefit in the changing world of technology.

“I remember just having to go to the internet café and be back home before dark. My parents took out a computer on hire purchase just so we would have access to the internet and we were one of the first homes to have dial-up internet in those days and I know the changes it made for my life, because of what I was able to achieve. Had my parents not made those sacrifices for me I wouldn’t have been here. I want my girls to grow up in a world where people are making those sacrifices not only for themselves but for the generation that is coming.”

Sites Builders Guyana is set to launch the ‘Girl tell the World Campaign’; a programme which is intended to have training sessions for girls and women (digital and creative writing workshops, website and mobile design workshops.)

The Gala, which was well attended, was a collaborative effort between the Inter-American Development Bank, Scotch Bonnet, Small Business Bureau, Metro, Guyana Animation Network, Global Technology, Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative and Vnet Communications.

Kipenie Jordan
Images: Jules Gibson

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