Gov’t to place greater emphasis on gender equity in technology – Min. Walrond

Guyana has a vibrant Information and Communications Technology (ICT) agenda targeting young people, girls in particular, through coding camps and other initiatives as part of government’s vision to incorporate ICT in every sector.

This was highlighted by Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond during the International Women’s Day dinner hosted by President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali and First Lady, Arya Ali, Wednesday evening.

Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond

“In the coming years, greater emphasis will be placed on the pursuit of gender equity in technology, with special attention paid to the inclusion of women in STEM-related fields,” Minister Walrond disclosed.

Importantly, efforts will be reflected in the representation of women in STEM-related disciplines and the ownership of STEM-based enterprises.

With respect to gender equity in a wider sense, the minister noted that Guyana has much to celebrate.

“Young girls in Guyana can see themselves represented in many spheres of endeavor for the purpose of election to Parliament, gender representation is mandatory under the Representation of The People Act, and a third of all lists of representatives must be women,” Minister Walrond said.

Guyana currently boasts women at the highest levels, in the National Assembly, the Cabinet, public service, disciplined services, and the judiciary.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond posing with some of the attendees at the IWD dinner

This year, International Women’s Day was observed under the theme, DigitALL: innovation and technology for gender equality.

The theme speaks to pursuing gender equity in the area of ICT, which is specifically important in the contemporary world, where there is almost no aspect of human endeavor untouched by ICTs.  

The minister said the theme encourages women to explore the impact of the digital gender gap on economic and social opportunities, while highlighting the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and addressing online and ICT facilitated gender-based violence.

Minister Walrond underlined that, “While the statistics are somewhat disheartening on the global scale, regionally and nationally, we find that we outperform global averages with respect to women’s participation in key areas. For example, globally, men outnumber women in internet usage 69 per cent to 63 per cent, meaning almost 269 million men, more men than women, access the internet across the world.”

A section of the gathering at the International Women’s Day dinner

Despite many advances in the field of gender equity, particularly as it relates to representation, the minister said few can deny that there remains much to be done and achieved.

ICT can be used to motivate women and girls to learn more and work toward achieving gender parity in managerial positions.

“Far too many of our women and girls face domestic violence and abuse. We must and we shall continue to work resolutely to eliminate these problems from our society,” the minister added.