Embracing equality in a digital era in Central Asia

Posted April 21, 2021

Participants to the Technovation world technological contest which aims to bring more girls into IT, business and entrepreneurship, Inha University, Uzbekistan.

Istanbul, Turkey
– Today, on the International day of Girls in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), prominent women from five Central Asian countries gather to discuss the link between disparities and gender stereotypes in ICT based on their experiences in the field.

In an increasingly high-tech world, the role of ICT is taking center stage. It is already impossible to imagine a profession that does not involve information technology in one way or another, from an entrepreneur or farmer to an artist or a ballerina.

More than half of the jobs lost during the COVID-19 crisis globally belonged to women. At a time where women's jobs are being disproportionately threatened by both the pandemic and long-term trends like automation, investing in ICT-focused jobs is a critical part of supporting a successful COVID-19 economic recovery and keeping progress toward gender equality on track.

Access to technological skills must be provided as early as possible in childhood, as shown by a  recent UNDP study in Tajikistan illustrating the fact that gender segregation in the tech sector starts with education as young women shy away from technological professions. This is especially important for girls, who are currently underrepresented in ICT education across Central Asia. Women are less than 32 percent of ICT tertiary students in Kazakhstan, and only 17.8 percent of ICT tertiary graduates in Uzbekistan. Access to ICTs at an early age will help girls to overcome the confidence barrier and allow them to become economically more independent and self-reliant in the future.

The UNDP webinar, the first of its kind in Central Asia, is held online at 15:00 (Ashgabat, Dushanbe, Tashkent) / 16:00 (Bishkek, Nur-Sultan) on April 22nd.

During the event, representatives of ICT companies and organizations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan will speak about challenges faced by women in Central Asia and possible solutions to attract more women to the sector.

The list of speakers includes women in tech leadership roles from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, including Damel Mektepbayeva, innovator, biotechnologist, co-founder of the HOOPE project; Dinara Ruslan, Founder and CEO at Codify lab, Mahinakhon Suleymanova, Executive Director of Public Organization “Neksigol Mushovir” and Co-founder/Chairman of the Board private company Neksigol Navovar, Maral Hudaibergenova, Ambassador of WomenTechmakers and initiator of Google Developer Group in Turkmenistan and Shodiyabegim Bakhtiyorzoda, Lecturer at Westminster International University of Tashkent and Customer Service Manager at Lufthansa Tecknik.

The goal of the event is to help professional and aspiring girls and women in ICT to connect and build on their common experience to expand education and career opportunities for women in tech.

Dina Ruslan, CEO and founder of Codify Lab: “Poverty, gender discrimination, gender stereotypes, and digital illiteracy are preventing girls and women from benefiting from digital technologies and leave us behind as the global workforce increasingly uses digital tools and other technologies. I  as a woman leader focus on women engagement in ICT to ensure we,  women and girls, are not excluded”.

Visit bit.ly/girlsintechCA for more information and to register.

Follow the discussion #girlintechcentralasia on our social media channels and Facebook event page.

Watch the video for Girls' ICT Day, as well as read interviews with ICT role models.