It is a pleasure to welcome you all to the U.S. Embassy today to share your thoughts and opinions on Girls in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) with such a renowned institution as Spellman College. Some of you might be interested to know that Spelman College is America’s oldest private historically black liberal arts college for women. The perfect partners to discuss such an important theme as expanding opportunities for women.
Today Haiti joins countries around the world in encouraging the inclusion of women and girls in ICT studies and career fields. This is a timely and urgent issue in the U.S., just like here in Haiti.
We know that all too often girls are steered away from math, engineering, and the so-called hard sciences, not because they lack the aptitude or the desire, but simply because of their gender. It may not always be a deliberate act of discrimination, but in the end, the effect is just the same. Isn’t that right?
Not just in preventing girls from entering into these fields, but in sending them the message that some things are simply off limits. It shrinks their universe of opportunities during a time in their lives when imagination and aspiration should be limitless.
This dampens the confidence needed for exploration and the courage to take a risk and try something unfamiliar. Therefore, today is in part about showing girls all across Haiti and around the world that every path is open to them, that nothing is beyond their reach.
That’s why we particularly support the efforts of our Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Alumna, Mrs. Nadia Jean-Charles for making this day of orientation, reflection and knowledge sharing on ICTs possible.
The primary goal of this event is to help youth discover your own abilities.
“DISCOVER YOUR OWN ABILITIES” – That’s a really powerful notion because teens pick up easily on the signals we send them about what we believe they are capable of. It’s so critical that we not only create opportunities for girls to see what they can do, but that you provide them mentors along the way as well.
I would like to thank Nadia and each of the volunteer panelists in ICT for standing up as true role models for what women can accomplish in ICT careers.
At the US Embassy, we’re committed to being full partners in this effort as well. We’re constantly looking for new ways to encourage girls and women to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math. We are very proud that our Fulbright scholarship program offers the opportunity to obtain a Master’s degree in all of these fields – and we’re collecting applications until Monday, April 29th if any of you are interested.
Noone here would doubt that knowledge in Information and Communication Technologies would benefit the prospects for economic growth in Haiti. With shortfalls of qualified ICT workers experts globally, now is the time to be forward thinkers to deliver the Haiti you desire.
We recognize there is work to be done to encourage ICT education, and it will take more than policy initiatives to get there.
It’s about parents and teachers and school directors ensuring that all students have the opportunity to study whatever they choose.
It’s about men and women in ICT fields giving their time to be mentors and advocates, and sharing their own experiences – even their challenges – with girls taking their first steps down this path.
And critically, it’s about all of us making sure our children know that there is much to be gained by pushing oneself to be the best you can be, to be problem solvers, and to even fail at times while taking worthwhile risks.
Thank you for your initiative to develop this conversation with your counterparts at Spellman College. There is much to be gained from dialogue. Let’s keep working together to ensure that all paths are open to Haiti’s daughters and that every girl in Haiti benefits from exposure to all the possibilities in ICT.