NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (MARCH 08, 2023) — The following is an address by Hon. Jahnel Nisbett, Minister of Gender Affairs in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2023.
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th annually. This year it is celebrated under the theme: “DigitAll: Innovation and technology for gender equality.” The United Nations observance of International Women’s Day recognises and celebrates the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education.
International Women’s Day 2023 will explore the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities. The day will also spotlight the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and addressing online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence.
Technology plays a vital role in the global economy. We have to create an environment that encourages and empowers women to consider careers in this growing field. The number of girls and women opting to study disciplines related to technology is small and consequently, women and girls are severely underrepresented in technology-based careers.
One of the drivers behind this inequality is that there is insufficient exposure to technology at a young age. Girls are not often provided with the opportunity to explore and experiment with technology because of traditional stereotypical ideologies. These stereotypes often lower the aspirations of women and girls in technology.
The Department of Gender Affairs is committed to championing the cause to educate women and girls about the exciting and far-reaching opportunities that await them in technology. It is our mission to change the status-quo and we ask that you all join with us to encourage and empower women in technology. In every aspect of society, women have proven to be creative, bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to the table.
Currently, women make up only a mere 28 per cent of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The gender gaps are particularly high in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future, like computer science and engineering. Only 21 percent of engineering majors and 19 percent of computer science majors are women. With such a disparity, both women and society as a whole are disadvantaged as this potential goes underutilised.
As a nation, we have to do our part to ensure that women and girls are included. One of the activities planned for the 18th of March is being dubbed “Women Can…” to be held at the Malcolm Guishard Recreational Park. The aim is to assist women and girls with the necessary tools to pursue their goals, dreams and aspirations. An afternoon filled with live musical entertainment, pop up shops and featuring women in technology and entrepreneurship will be free of cost to the public and so we invite everyone to come out.
On March 5th we began our celebrations with a church service at the Eden Brown Church of God and so we thank them for their hospitality and blessings. Today March 8th, International Women’s Day, we encourage the general public to wear purple in support of our women.
As we begin to do our part to increase women’s footprint in the world of technology, we have to close all gaps in digital access and skills, support women and girls in STEM, create tech that meets the needs of women and girls and address technology-facilitated gender-based violence. The Department of Gender Affairs is not just promoting equality but also equity.
Let us all join in solidarity with our women to “DigitAll” and #EmbraceEquity.