Georgetown, Guyana – (April 26, 2018) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, today, said that there is need in Guyana for girls to be exposed to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at an earlier age in order to spark their interest in the field. The First Lady made these remarks at the launch of the Girls in ICT Day 2018 Caribbean Tech Lab- Guyana event, which is a joint collaboration between the Ministry of Public Telecommunications and the host of the event, GeoTech Vision Guyana Incorporated. The launch was held at the Roraima Duke Lodge, Kingston.

The First Lady, in her opening remarks, pointed out that women and girls could be left behind if their access and exposure to technology is not prioritised since, already, the majority of jobs require ICT skills. “I know that our participants must be aware of the vital importance of developing and continually building on Information and Communication Technology skills, given that over two-thirds of the jobs will require this knowledge and the projection is that 60 percent of our jobs will soon be done by robots… UN Women estimates that 90 percent of jobs will soon require ICT skills. To be part of this new job environment, women and girls have to develop their skills and pursue jobs in STEM-related fields, aiming to reach the pinnacle of the tech game,” she said.

Mrs. Granger also added that Guyana must aggressively invest in educating girls, referencing what she refers to as the multiplier effect community and national development. “Women and girls spend as much as 90 percent of their earned income on their families. Ensuring that they develop and hone skills needed to secure jobs in the modern economy will not only benefit their health and well-being but will certainly have an impact on the economic and social development of their families and communities,” she said.

The First Lady also shared with the audience of young women the success of their young colleagues involved with the STEM Guyana programme and the strides made in their robotics and app development ventures. She then charged the girls to continue honing their skills in ICT and show the world that “Guyanese girls rock”.

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Ms. Catherine Hughes, told the audience that the future of Guyana relies heavily on investments in youth and their commitment to develop their skills so that they can contribute to the economic advancement of the nation. “You, young people are indeed the chosen generation. You will keep Guyana relevant with your knowledge of ICT and you will be able to respond to every global change,” the Minister said.

Minister Hughes urged the girls present to sign up for tech-clubs, STEM groups and to take advantage of any opportunities for training that would enable them to develop skills within the field. “I want you to get more involved because ICT is all about putting your creative geniuses to work and using the internet to develop newer and better versions of apps that you use every day today on your cell phones and computers… I know that you, young people, know to use the technology inside and out. You have the ability to use what you are naturally good at to make an industry, make a career, get further training and most importantly to form your own businesses and to make money in these same fields,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin, emphasised the need for more women in the ICT industry as he believes that they offer new perspectives that would benefit the development of sector. He told the young women not to be shy, to hone their skills and take lead since their input can address more diverse ICT solutions. “As we enter into the new phase of our economic development I believe it’s important for us to address the issue of national competitiveness and when it comes to national competitiveness, I believe the ICT sector has a major role to play. I urge you not to be intimidated or shy to get involved in this sector. It is a viable career option and I’m certain that women can bring a fresh approach,” he said.

International Girls in ICT Day aims to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICT, enabling both girls and technology companies to reap the benefits of greater female participation in the ICT sector. This year, Guyana’s Girls in ICT Tech-Lab is being held simultaneously with the one-day Caribbean Regional Hackathon in Trinidad, Jamaica and Saint. Vincent and the Grenadines under the theme, “Expand horizons, change attitudes”.

Co-Founder of She Leads It, Ms. Nicole Pitter Patterson and students and teachers drawn from schools including, The Bishops’ High, Saint Rose’s High and Saint Stanislaus College also attended the event.

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