On April 28th, 2022, the world commemorated International Girls in ICT Day, and the Microsoft Africa Development Center (ADC) in West Africa hosted an intimate gathering with schoolgirls and female tech enthusiasts.
The day was named “Access and Safety” to emphasize the importance of secure and reliable access to the internet and digital technologies for girls and young women who want to succeed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and partners collaborate this year and every year to explore solutions and ideas for eliminating barriers to access and promoting online safety for girls and young women.
Young girls from Girls Senior Secondary Grammar School Obalende, Ikoyi Lagos, female computer aficionados, and 30 ladies under 30 with no prior tech expertise all attended the event, which was hosted at the recently opened Microsoft campus in Lagos.
This audience was treated to motivational talks, one-on-one mentoring sessions, a tour of the company, and an overview of technological skilling courses.
The 30 women under 30 who attended the event but did not have an academic degree or a career in technology left with fresh energy and a desire to pursue careers in technology and software engineering.
The day-long event, which was hosted by Sefunmi Wande-Durojaye, Lead Ecosystem and Program Development at Microsoft ADC-West Africa, sparked discussions about ICT for girls, with a keynote address delivered by Bolanle Olumekor, Knowledge Management Assistant at the United Nations Information Centre Nigeria.
During the sessions, participants heard inspiring and thought-provoking presentations from the speakers. Even though her first degree was in Estate Management, Paula Wigwe, Business Manager at Microsoft ADC-West Africa, presented a sympathetic story of how she went into computing. Her biography revolved around her curiosity, perseverance, and ability to stay focused.
Beyond emphasizing the need of internet access and safety for young women, the day was used as another platform to encourage young women interested in STEM to dream and believe in a future at Microsoft, just as many women have. Adora Nwodo, Software Engineer in Mixed Reality, and Jacquelyn Ekwueme, Senior Program Manager in the Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) department, discussed their perspectives on how to become a voice and stay relevant in the IT business.
In terms of skill progression chances, Microsoft ADC West Africa worked with Utiva and Skillup Africa to assist ladies in advancing their careers in technology.
A career session led by Tejumade Olaniyi, Recruiter at the ADC West Africa, and an experience at the Garage led by Lydiah Karanja, Program Manager of the Garage, ADC East Africa, were among the other highlights of the day.
The Garage session allowed attendees to try their hands on a few projects, demonstrating how accessible and enjoyable technology can be for young women.