“Developing a strong sense of identity and self-belief is critical if women are to play a greater role in national development” said Mrs. Stephanie Danclair, Director at US-based BrightPath Foundation.
Mrs. Danclair was the featured speaker at a special event hosted by BrightPath Foundation and Pasifika Nexus, with support from UN Women.
Mrs. Danclair charged the audience to pursue their dreams.
“Do not be afraid of obstacles, rather pursue life-long learning and embrace life’s challenges as stepping stones to developing character and strength,” Mrs. Danclair said.
Her brief remarks challenged women to reach beyond their limitations and walk confidently into new roles such as science and technology.
Mrs. Danclair is part of the BrightPath Foundation team that travelled to Fiji to facilitate the Mobile Application Development Training component of a Youth TechCamp hosted by the UN Women and Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), in collaboration with Pasifika NEXUS and BrightPath Foundation, the United States Department of State and Global Leadership Interlink.
UN Women National Programme Specialist for Gender, Climate Change, Disaster and Risk Management, Ms. Katalaine Duaibe emphasised the important role ICT plays in encouraging innovative and collaborative approaches to empower rural women and communities. UN Women recognises ICT as an enabling mechanism for the empowerment of women, she said, urging ICT professionals to bear the needs of rural communities in mind when engaging in development strategies.
A participant, IT Consultant of That’s IT, Mr. Jim Tora, encouraged women to engage in their communities and actively participate in various forums and mailing lists related to ICT and Governance to share ideas and collaborate.
Panelists shared their life experiences, which tugged at the hearts of people. Ms. Melaia Cama, a local lawyer, said that the symposium had a tremendous impact on her.
Panelists included senior web designer Ms. Georgina Sakimi, Ms. Shareen Taiyab, an ICT professional in the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Ms. Alzima Bano who is a tutor at the University of the South Pacific and a youth advocate, and Mrs. Mere Baro, an ICT Professional in Telecom Fiji Limited.
Ms Bano said women did not have to be ICT professionals to have an interest in ICT as the world is quickly evolving and there is greater reliance on communication media.
Director of Pasifika NEXUS, Ms Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro, told participants that girls and women are game changers and their influence on innovation should not be underestimated. She spoke of how the Wright Brothers who invented the first airplane were first inspired by their mother who taught her children about bicycles and this stirred their fascination for mechanics and the drive to innovate. Likewise, women have the capacity to innovate and inspire those around them to positively impact their communities, she said.