Women in IT-Making Good Great

October 17, 2014

The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports recently launched the three-year Netherlands Trust Fund (NTF) III programme. The purpose of the programIMG_2076me is to increase export competitiveness and export revenues in the IT (information technology) and ITES (IT-enabled services) sectors of the programme’s priority countries: Bangladesh, Kenya and Uganda.

As part of NTF III’s work, there will be specific efforts focused on increasing the number of women working in the IT and ITES industry at all levels. The project will focus on raising awareness about IT career options through on- and offline outreach events, business case competitions, and media work; while bringing about longer-term impact through training and mentoring.

Trellis’ Katie Gove works as a consultant to the NTFIII’s Women in IT effort and was in Dubai last week to facilitate a workshop with project teams from all three NTFIII countries.

The meeting in Dubai is an important step to ensure that NTF III plays a coordination role to help the stakeholders to network and exchange experiences with each other, as well as with other international networks, so that they can find new ideas, strength in numbers, and an international network to support and encourage this important work. The road ahead is long: Women are completely underrepresented in the IT and ITES industries although they offer tremendous, women-friendly job and entrepreneurship IMG_2084opportunities.

Representatives from the Bangladeshi IT association, BASIS; Kenya’s ICT Authority; Uganda’s National IT Authority; Uganda’s ICT and BPO trade associations (ICT-AU and UBPOA); and Kenya’s IT and BPO association, KITOS; gathered in Dubai during GITEX, the global IT Expo (www.gitex.com) on 14 and 15 October. The goal was to define an action plan to increase the number and profile of women in IT as well as to provide a forum for stakeholders to share experiences and insight from their own countries and efforts.

The NTF III Women in IT meeting was also an opportunity for exploring synergies among the NTF III project partners in Bangladesh, Kenya and Uganda around other topics, such as business development, branding, and market intelligence.

Barbara Birungi, Director of HiveColab and the Founder of Women in IT Uganda said, “The event was a unique opportunity to network with likeminded fellows on what we are doing in the women-in-IT space, particularly regarding the challenges we have in common and the solutions we could share. I believe that when knowledge and experiences are collectively shared the issue of the technological gender gap will soon be history.”

Eunice Kariuki, Deputy CEO, Kenya ICT AuIMG_2092thority added, “I was aiming to identify and create synergies with peer countries on joint initiatives for promoting the role of women in developing ITES in the region: Mission accomplished! We want to build upon the dynamic value proposition of the broader NTFIII programme to make the sector more competitive and through that, open up opportunities for women in the sector.” Eunice went on to say, “I also learned from other countries’ experiences, specifically how to create local capacity for local players.”

Farhana Rahman, CEO of UY Systems Ltd and a founding member of Bangladesh’s IT association’s soon-to-be-established BASIS Women’s Forum, noted, “It is critical to bring the capability of women to this industry. These efforts will help both the industry and the women themselves. The summit in Dubai gave us an opportunity to exchange experiences and insights that will certainly benefit all of us in our efforts to open up economic opportunities for women in IT and ITES.”