Thank you very much.
Ministers, professor, Deputy Minister Gashi, Ambassador, colleagues, it’s great to be here today, especially to talk about this very important topic.
Certainly investment in the education of people, particularly women, is the key to success and prosperity of a nation.
My President Obama has said — “The best judge of whether or not a country is going to develop is how it treats its women. If it’s educating its girls, if women have equal rights, that country is going to move forward. But if women are oppressed and abused and illiterate, then they’re going to fall behind.”
I’m extremely pleased to see that the need for women’s education in Kosovo is recognized, and that increasingly, women are becoming more engaged in sectors that were traditionally thought to be male professions — information technology being among them.
The simple answer to this is the fact that the ICT sector is offering a tremendous opportunity for development, innovation, and most importantly employment.
In many schools across Kosovo through USAID’s Basic Education Program, we have engaged in activities that offer equal opportunity for the development of both girls and boys in technology.
The response from young women who engage in technology has been impressive — from developing software applications, to participating in RobotiKS competitions, to teaching their peers about modern technology.
In the United States, women play a leadership role in the ICT sector. I imagine most of you are on Facebook — well did you know that the Chief Operations Officer at Facebook is a woman? Her name is Sheryl Sandberg.
By the way, the Chief Executive Officers of YouTube, Yahoo, IBM are all women, as is the Chief Financial Officer at Google.
But in Kosovo, we still see fewer trained ICT professionals who are women — accounting for just over 20% of all ICT specialists in Kosovo.
We need to close this gender gap. Encouraging more young women to enter the ICT sector is a great way of accomplishing this goal. We need to challenge parents and teachers to cast aside stereotypical attitudes while urging more young women to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Careers in ICT are dynamic, flexible, and well-paid. ICT is a sector which offers women the opportunity to build careers while providing excellent prospects in the long term. Computer and information-systems jobs consistently ranked among the best paying throughout Kosovo.
I encourage all of you to look into USAID programs such as the “Females in Information Technology Program,” through which we have enabled twenty young women to acquire ICT skills. These skills are in huge demand from the current labor market.
Young women with ICT skills will find many jobs affording them the opportunity to be creative and innovative while discovering entirely new ways to work and learn.
It’s not one of our projects, but I really enjoy www.girlswhocode.com website, which has a lot of information about careers in the ICT field, and how to get trained to learn how to code and to work in the ICT field. www.girlswhocode.com
And let us not forget all of you here today, who are already participating in the ICT field. You are the future role models for the next generation.
I encourage everybody to take full advantage of the opportunities taking place here today and to continue exploring the wonderful opportunities that ICT has to offer.
Thank you very much.
Question and Answer for the Ambassador
Question: [inaudible] … Bajrami from AUK. I’m using the chance to ask first because I’m at home here. I have a question for Ambassador Delawie.
USAID is supporting schools of Kosovo by introducing modern technology to students and teachers. But, how do we increase the interest of young women to continue learning more about technology? Thank you.
Ambassador: I think awareness-raising is very important; and of course that’s what we are doing today. And as Ambassador Braathu pointed out, we also have to go to other people, who can help raise awareness. This is why it’s very important to work in the schools, to have conferences like this, to call on people – especially women who are already working in ICT sector – to ask them to help mentor girls in schools and young women as well. So, we got to do lot of awareness-raising, and that’s the most important thing for me right now. We’re doing our part, but I think this is something where we all can play a role in. The Deputy Minister pointed out all the opportunities that are available in the ICT sector, but we have to make sure that the target population – and that’s young women and girls – is aware of these things. I think that’s one of those subjects where you just have to keep repeating the message over and over in different groups until you get it out as much as you possibly can.