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Inside Africa

UN chief urges African girls to embrace technological professions

Power relations in the world will remain male dominated if girls and women are not strongly involved in technological professions, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Saturday.

Guterres was currently in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to attend the 32nd African Union (AU) Summit, slated for Sunday and Monday under the theme “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.”

Guterres, while addressing a high-level event to encourage African girls to learn coding, said concerted efforts should be made to ensure more girls are enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies across the world.

“If girls and women are not strongly involved in technological professions, the power relations in the world will remain very male dominated and that is exactly what we do not want,” Guterres said.

“We are in the frontline of this battle,” he added.

Guterres said the absence of women in such influential professions is also the reason why “we still have difficulties of girls trying to go to school or we have genital mutilation or early marriages” in Africa.

“One of the central problems that women and girls face in the whole world is that our world is organized in such a way that power is more in the hands of men than in the hands of women,” he said.

Guterres stressed the need to change the power relations to create an equilibrium between men and women.

“We are doing it with clarity in the United Nations, but one of the problems we have is that in technology professions – engineers, mathematicians – we are having, unfortunately, a huge proportion of men and a small proportion of women,” the UN chief said.

Guterres also shared with the African Girls Can Code team that when he was at university studying to become an electrical engineer, there was only one girl in his class.
“This is what we need to change,” Guterres said, adding “we are not yet there.”

“We need to make big efforts to have more and more girls into technological courses. It’s absolutely crucial that we do so,” he added. Enditem

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