Secretary-General Tells Young Women ‘World Cannot Afford to Lose Your Talent’ in Technology Battle against Pandemic, Marking International Day

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for Girls in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Day, observed on 23 April:

Girls in ICT Day is all about encouraging girls and young women to take up the exciting potential of a career in information and communications technology. It is also about urging Governments, industry and academia to develop strategies to equip and support girls who want to embark on such a career.

The unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, much more effectively than any statement I could make, the vital importance of information and communications technology to society. With billions of people now confined to home, with businesses shuttered from New York to Nairobi, with health services strained to breaking point, digital networks are playing a crucial role in keeping the world working. They are keeping us connected, supporting health workers treating the sick and enabling researchers who are collaborating to develop a vaccine.

Digital technologies will be the key to our success. Digital molecular analysis is helping teams understand the virus so we can target its weak points. Digital epidemiological modelling is helping us understand the behaviour of the virus to help us curb its spread. Yet, when women are excluded from such work, we replicate and deepen inequalities and gender stereotypes, we create products that do not adequately address the needs of half the population, and we further the gender digital divide.

So, to today’s girls and young women, I say: Digital solutions are going to be central to every major challenge facing your generation. The world cannot afford to lose your talent. What career choice could be more rewarding than mastering the digital skills that will help you to save our planet and its people?