Girls in ICT Day 2023: DIGRA’s Female Leaders Championing Digital Skills and Community Empowerment

By Muhammed Bello Buhari

Digital Grassroots (DIGRA) recently joined the global community in celebrating International Girls in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Day. This event is held annually on the fourth Thursday of April under the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) initiative, aimed at empowering and encouraging girls and young women to consider careers in ICTs. This year’s celebration bore the theme “Digital Skills for Life.” To mark the occasion, DIGRA hosted a virtual roundtable discussion themed “Developing Digital Advocacy Skills through Community.”


The discussion was moderated by our Co-founder and Global Lead, Uffa Modey, and featured our Founder and Chief Strategist, Esther Mwema. The panelists comprised Mauricia Abdol Tshilunda, a DIGRA Community Leader for Internet Advocacy in South Africa, Ruth Atim, a DIGRA Ambassador and Community Leader from Uganda, and Lindsey Kukunda, an Alumna of the Digital Rights Learning Exchange Program from Uganda. Each of these women shared insights from their experiences advocating for digital rights within their communities, highlighting the importance of collaboration and the influence of women-led organizations. 


Ruth Atim shared about her project, ‘The School ICT Clubs’, an initiative under the Gender Tech Initiative organization she founded. The project liaises with school authorities to set up ICT clubs, training and empowering young girls through mentorship and career talks. “You’ll have to be patient. It’s not an easy field of work. The fact that my project runs most in rural [area] schools, and these are young girls who have not even touched a computer. So our journey starts with basic computer literacy; how to open a computer and how to type. It’s a slow journey with patience and commitment. And I’m enjoying it.” Ruth noted as she talked about the core lessons she learned from her experiences while promoting girls and women in the ICT sector.


Mauricia Abdol Tshilunda discussed her journey into Internet Governance starting in 2020, emphasizing the need for the inclusion of women and girls in every conversation. “There’s a platform that I’m actively involved in; that women and girls are included in every conversation.” she shared. Talking about the ways to foster collaboration and support networks among women and girls in ICT, Mauricia also noted that being intentional about the positioning as a woman is very relevant. She said, “Definitely get into the right communities, know where the conversations are taking place, and then use your agency to do it even while you’re afraid. Take a chance.


Lindsey Kukunda spoke about fostering a thriving digital space for women and girls in ICT and the critical role of female-led projects in building the confidence and capabilities of women in this sector. She said, “Experience sharing is crucial, and in doing so, women get solutions that are practical. They become so open when it’s other women speaking to them, especially confident women… For them, it blows their minds. There’s a sense of sisterhood when women are the ones who are leading programs like this. We need to help each other. We need to work together.


Following these discussions, an interactive session ensued, focusing on the impact of DIGRA on their advocacy and capacity building, as well as the role of organizations like DIGRA in shaping a conducive environment for women to connect skills acquisition with leadership and innovation in ICT. Ruth commended DIGRA for inspiring her growth, while Mauricia expressed gratitude for DIGRA’s continuous support since her induction as a community leader for internet advocacy in 2021. Lindsey said her engagement with DIGRA made her more intentional about her feminism. 


Our Founder and Chief Strategist, Esther Mwema, took the floor to commend the panelists on their inspiring work, emphasizing that their roles in the digital grassroots programs have inspired several participants. She highlighted the essence of International Girls in ICT Day, stating that the goal is to effect lasting changes and ensure community growth alongside individual growth. Concluding the Roundtable Discussion, Uffa Modey, the moderator, echoed DIGRA’s commitment to creating intentional pathways for women, especially those from underrepresented communities in ICT. She expressed the belief that such efforts are highly needed in the ecosystem to shape a more inclusive digital future.


You can watch the full Roundtable Discussion on our Youtube channel here.