Multi-organisational partnership, a changed social mindset towards women, and an improved working environment is essential for enhancing women's participation in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, said speakers at a discussion programme on Thursday.
"ICT's importance is felt in every sphere of our life, but women are lagging behind in this sector," said Orla Alicia Murphy, country director of Plan International Bangladesh, at the virtual discussion programme, "Accelerating Digital Inclusion for Girls and Women in a Safer Online World," organised by Aspire to Innovate (a2i), Grameenphone, and Plan International Bangladesh, marking the International Day of Girls in ICT.
"To ensure participation of women in this sector, a multi-sector partnership is crucial," she added.
She also urged authorities concerned to change societal attitudes towards women and to develop a women-friendly working environment, as well as to look into the existing education system for this purpose.
The State Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, agreed with Orla Murphy, saying that partnership of different bodies is important for increasing the participation of women in the ICT sector.
He said the government has undertaken several ICT skill development programmes for people in the country and it is going to launch more training projects, some of which are especially for women, to ensure women's participation in this sector.
He also said the government is going to distribute laptops to trainees in the ongoing "Learning and earning" project. Besides, the ministry concerned will provide computers to women who are unable to buy them, if they apply to the ministry.
Recalling the country's journey towards digitalisation, Palak said, "On 12 December 2008, the announcement for making a Digital Bangladesh was made, when people had very little knowledge of ICT. Over the last 12 years, we got the benefits of digitalisation and have been feeling the importance of it for the last one year of the pandemic."
He added, "We have a success story in the ICT sector. Currently the number of internet users in the country has reached 11.5 crore and the number of freelancers has risen to around 6.5 lakh."
"Besides, hundreds of thousands of e-commerce and f-commerce (Facebook Commerce) entrepreneurs have been created here. Most of them are women, many of whom are marginalised," he continued.
However, the state minister acknowledged that there are still some issues which should be addressed to make improvements in this regard.
Among others, Chief Human Resource Officer of Grameenphone, Syed Tanvir Husain, spoke at the programme.