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Redouble efforts to champion digital gender equality – CARICOM SG

  In the face of the widening digital gender gap, Dr. Carla Barnett, CARICOM Secretary-General has called for a redoubling of efforts to champion digital gender equality initiatives in the Region. She also recommended a reinforced determination to amplify the voices of women and girls in the ICT sector.

The Secretary-General issued the challenges in a message to mark CARICOM Girls in ICT Day which was observed on 25 April 2024 under the theme ‘Inspiring Youth Innovation, Leading Change in CARICOM’. The regional focus for the Day, the Secretary-General said, reflects the shared vision for a collective paradigm shift where girls and boys are empowered to innovate and lead using available tools. It also underscores shared commitment to fostering a culture where youth are included among the change agents that are safe-guarding CARICOM’s future.

“The future of our CARICOM youth depends on our steadfast dedication and commitment to helping the Region and its young people thrive in this digital age. Today, as we celebrate the outstanding regional and international achievements of women and girls in the ICT sector, let us reinforce our shared determination to amplify their voices and uplift their contributions. Let us unlock the full potential of our digital CARICOM by ensuring quality experiences, decent jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for girls and women everywhere, through the transformative power of technology,” the Secretary-General said.

In her message, Dr. Barnett referred to the digital gender gap challenges including inequalities in access to technology, digital skills and online opportunities, lack of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and research, and policymaking. She highlighted as well, online harassment, cyberbullying and match anxiety, which can prevent girls from pursuing digital careers or participating in online spaces.

As part of the Community’s efforts to address these challenges, Secretary-General Barnett said the groundwork is being developed through strategic regional initiatives such as the CARICOM Single ICT Space, the CARICOM Human Resource Development Strategy, the CARICOM Digital Skills Taskforce and the CARICOM Girls in ICT Partnership, and related Member State activities.

“The advent of additional career pathways for new and emerging technologies provides hope for a more equitable future. Careers such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) Prompt Engineer, AI Ethics Practitioner, Data Scientist, and Machine Learning Researcher, indicate the evolving landscape, and offer promising avenues for growth for both women and men. Just a glimpse into this new world of opportunity can make major differences for girls and boys who are encouraged to pursue these.

The gender disparities in STEM education and careers, particularly in the field of ICT, highlight a critical issue that requires continued urgent attention,” the Secretary-General said.

Her message set the tone for the Community’s activity organized by the CARICOM Girls in ICT Partnership and the Restore a Sense of I Can (RSC) organisation. This hybrid programme highlighted the importance of STEM education and showcased career opportunities in the ICT fields. General sessions were conducted with speakers from government, industry, and education sectors, as well as breakout sessions covering presentations, workshops, simulations, gaming, and motivational talks.

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