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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has called for strengthened partnerships in ensuring that girls have access to the use of ICTs as tools for achieving their individual goals, but also as opportunities to stimulate many girls to become critical thinkers and creators of the technologies which are important to address the most pressing issues faced today.

Speaking on behalf of the UNDP Resident Representative, ai Gregory Saili who is the UNDP Assistant Resident Representative said that ICTs could resolve some of the challenges faced today – from poverty to health. He said that the conference was specifically an opportunity to encourage girls take up careers in the width of ICTs - from programming to coding, cyber-security to computer networking and an entire range of ICT functionalities.

“As UNDP, we are always keen on partnerships that embrace sustainable development and, in this case, partnerships that foster women’s well-being and importantly bridge the digital divide between men and women. We believe that this conference and the follow-up actions are important steps to introducing young women to the world of ICTs and a means of attaining our gender strategic goals of empowering women and ensuring gender equality,” he said.

He underscored that the conference in as far as UNDP was concerned, was a means to a broader objective of achieving gender equality. He said, “the rallying cry for us in the United Nations System is to leave no one behind.  As UNDP and in collaboration with our partners, we are determined to ensure that actions from this conference reach further to rural communities in Chief Chamuka, Chief Muwezya and Chief Nkomeshya. In these targeted locations, we want to establish ICT hubs that these girls will use as information centres and therefore be able to access training and mentoring. The chiefdoms are female-led whilst Chief Chamuka is a renowned HeforShe Champion”.

The Honourable Minister of Transport and Communications, Dr. Brian Mushimba graced the occasion and embraced the UNDP call for traditional authorities to be active stakeholders in the information society and support initiatives aimed at promoting ICTs skills, especially for girls.

“Given the sad realities of the digital divide between rural and urban areas of our country, it is just proper for me at this point in time to appeal to traditional authorities to be active stakeholders in the information society,” he said.

The conference, which is an annual event brings together over 200 girls from across the country from different communities to experience ICTs as a development tool. This year, Zambia Information and Communications Technology (ZICTA), which is the main organizer, partnered with UNDP on 25th – 26th April 2019 in Lusaka. It is a conference organized to advocate and promote the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) amongst girls. This year the conference gathered iconic women in ICTs such as Susan Mulikita, who is the first female Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Liquid Telecom, FSDZ Policy and Digital Finance Advisor – Charirity Chikumbi, BongoHive inspired project owners. It was packed with empowering messages from online financial management to cyber-security and filmmaking. From ICT industry management to development of networks and software.

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