As the Public Telecommunications Ministry continues to highlight the importance of women and girls in the growing field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) across Guyana through several initiatives, a ‘Professional women in ICT’ luncheon was on Wednesday hosted at Cara Lodge, Georgetown.Minister Cathy Hughes speaking prior to the luncheon said it was conceptualised with the aim of providing an avenue for the women to network and look at areas of collaboration on future projects involving women and girls. It is her belief that more girls need to be encouraged to get involved in the careers that will become available in the ICT area.Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes interacting with women at a luncheon hosted at Cara Lodge“By 2025, they are saying 70 per cent of all jobs are going to be in Information Communication Technology and we [Government] just want to make sure that we are ready, so the Ministry is working on creating opportunities where we are connecting people to the Internet in schools and the Hinterland,” she noted.The Minister said the focus is being placed on training and education, hence the Public Telecommunications Ministry continues to collaborate with the Education Ministry and the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD).The event precedes the ‘Girls in ICT’ day being observed today. Minister Hughes said interaction with Co-Founder, SheLeadsIt, Nicole Pitter Patterson will allow the women to get a sense of how Guyana is connecting with what is happening regionally.The SheLeadsIt, Co-Founder said her organisation aims at empowering women enterprises globally and has been partnering with local organisations. For this year, the organisation has reached over 800 girls in Guyana and across the Caribbean.Marcia Thomas, Head of Information and Communication Technology at NCERD, said contrary to perceptions, ICT has always been an integral part in terms of meeting the needs of children with learning disabilities through the use of learning software to improve their performances.Echoing similar sentiments as the Minister, Thomas said within five years, especially with the emerging oil and gas sector, there will be a plethora of jobs available directly related to ICT, therefore the Education Ministry is in preparation mode.“Guyana is poised to be able to provide those specialists, those technologically savvy people because contrary to what people believe our children are using ICTs, we are using ICTs every day so we have to think ICT now, we have to live it,” Thomas emphasised.Reference was made to the ‘Guyana Girl Code’ programme and the STEM Guyana Robotics clubs across Guyana as some of the initiatives being promoted by NCERD and the Education Ministry, specifically aimed at empowering girls in the field.In Guyana, an ICT Tech lab will be developed led by Geotech Vision, which will see 55 girls from 11 schools and the University of Guyana engaged in web development activities. This will be followed by the hosting of a hackathon in July 2018, which will be larger and feature more “hands-on” activities.‘Girls in ICT’ will kick off today with an exhibition at Duke Lodge, Kingston.