It was a rain of laptops for 50 selected school girls on Thursday, May 27, 2021, as TD Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest technology, solutions and lifestyle distributor hosted the beneficiaries to the second edition of its Girls in ICT Day event.
The event, hosted at the Tech Experience Centre, located at the imposing Yudala Heights on Idowu Martins, Victoria Island, Lagos, will go down in history as arguably one of the most potentially life-changing empowerment sessions for the Nigerian girl child.
In addition to the donation of a laptop to each participating school girl, in partnership with the Nigerian team of foremost technology brand, Dell Technologies; 10 exceptional girls from the five participating schools were also selected for enrollment in a digital skill acquisition programme by a multinational technology company, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). The visibly elated girls expressed their gratitude to the organizers of the event, with a promise to utilize their new gifts judiciously for personal and professional improvement.
The event was organized under the auspices of This is Me, a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of TD Africa.
Speaking at the event, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), TD Africa, Mrs. Chioma Ekeh, urged the young girls to develop a life-long learning habit, with the aim of making themselves valuable in their immediate environment and to society.
“Never stop learning. Learning should be part of your routine now and forever. Wherever you find yourself, you must leave a footprint. All through your life, you will come across a few yeses. Be encouraged by those yeses, and be grateful for them. On the other hand, you will also come across lots of noes. However, be challenged by them, with the aim to make yourself a better version of yourself. So, even the noes have their roles. This is because the more noes you tell me, the better I become,’’ Mrs. Ekeh said.
The TD Africa boss further told the girls to be ready to pay the price for a successful life by working hard. Equally important, she counselled them to strive for professional and financial independence, noting that there are no barriers or glass ceilings that can hold back a confident woman. Mrs. Ekeh disclosed that life would always come with its own challenges, adding that when such challenges come, they should avoid adopting a defeatist approach to solving such problems.
Her advice came as the Country Manager, Apple, Teju Ajani, also encouraged the teenage girls to embrace the STEM disciplines, with a view towards pursuing a career in technology which remains a male-dominated sector.
“It (STEM education) gives you flexibility, it gives you the room to navigate. It empowers you to make decisions that can affect your life and allows you to take your career in your hands, whether as a professional working for others or as an entrepreneur working for yourself.”
On his part, Country Lead, Dell Technologies, Mr. Abimbola Owoeye, encouraged the girls to strive to become value creators, adding that the value they bring to the table will make room for them and break down any discriminatory walls aligned to gender inequality.
Earlier, Coordinating Managing Director (CMD), TD Africa, Mrs. Chioma Chimere, stated that there were many challenges facing the girl child.
“Our challenges are a bit different from the ones that confront the male children. Ours are more intense and more serious,” Chimere said. “Do you know why that is happening? It is because the girl child is carrying destinies with her. What the girl child is supposed to do goes way beyond her. This is because you are not just fixing things out there in the world; you are also going to shape other people’s destinies.”
She stated that such realization made TD Africa organize the session, with the aim of empowering young girls to face the future courageously.
“That is why we consider it pertinent to bring together these female children today. This is because of how important they are. The future of your homes, communities, country and the world in general lies in your hands. We have called you here to equip you, open your eyes to those roles, to help you identify them and equip you to face them. If you fail in taking up those challenges and harnessing the available opportunities from those challenges, you would have failed yourselves and your generation,” she said.
While addressing the girls, Ekinadese Osayande, a leading independent university admission counsellor, advised the girls to become more inquisitive about the pervasive influence of technology in contemporary society, even as she noted that the participants also have a role to play in ensuring that less informed parents/wards understand the relevance of empowering the girl child.
Head of the Tech Experience Centre, Chidalu Ekeh, went down memory lane to show the girls how she overcame defeatist advice to take a successful stand on issues that would have defined her negatively. She counselled the students not to allow themselves to be consumed by the fear of failure.
“We must fail and find the strength to continue,” she said. “We must dare to dream.”
Also, a University Relations Analyst with IBM, Olufunmilola Olorundare, advised the girls to develop an open mindset. “We can do whatever we want to do, as far as we have an open mindset,” she said.
This is Me, a CSR initiative bankrolled by TD Africa, has consistently engaged vulnerable and under-represented segments of the society, including the girl child, the physically challenged and children in orphanages, among others.