It was a bright afternoon precisely on the 18th of February 2018.I was browsing through my phone and came across this call for fellowship program by AFRINIC ( African Network Information Centre) calling on Africans to apply for the fellowship program and get the chance to represent their countries and participate in the in the African Internet Summit in Dakar, Senegal.I was curious about this opportunity and went ahead to look at the eligibility criteria which was that the fellowship is reserved for individuals who are actively involved in Internet operations and development or ICT policies in their countries.I ran and showed my friend this opportunity and encouraged her that we should apply.After going through the criteria, she laughed and said ''Forget about this opportunity. Look for other opportunities. ICT is a male dominated world and you can never be selected to attend this program because you are a girl''.I said to myself, she is right. I shouldn't waist my time applying for this. The whole night I couldn't sleep. I kept on thinking on how I have encouraged girls to use online platforms like World Pulse to share their stories and linked them to other digital opportunities. I thought about my work as a Gender Activist creating more than 8 clubs in Secondary schools to encourage girls get involve in STEM(Science,Technology,Engineering and Mathematics) field. I also thought about how I had trained women and girls with disabilities to use E-commerce to sell their goods online. I remembered my work as an online volunteer impacting the lives of young women globally. I got up from bed and decided to apply.
After some few weeks, I got a mail that read '' Congratulations,You have been selected to attend the Internet Summit in Senegal''. I was overjoyed and shared the story to my relatives and friends. They were all surprised and celebrated with me.After some weeks, I travelled to Senegal without paying a dime as all my expenses were borne by AFRINIC.During the Summit, I had the opportunity to meet face to face and interact with high level seasoned internet professionals from all over the globe. I also took part and gave contributions to the development of the internet policies. Upon arrival home, many young women and men started contacting me to teach them on how to use digital tools. I have organized events to train them on how to subscribe to different internet registries and make contributions to the development of the internet policies. Thanks to ICT,I am now a role model in my community, many young women and men started looking up to me as an ICT ambassador. I am not just a user of the internet but I give stringent contributions to the development of the internet policies and my voice is heard.
We must bridge the digital gap by challenging the stereotypes that stop girls from using and creating technology - and pursuing their dream careers.For young girls,ICT can be leveraged for better access to education and jobs,financial inclusion and acess to basic health information.