With the theme “Access & Safety”, for the seventh year in a row, IPKO Foundation in collaboration with A.U.K Training and Development Institute, joined the international initiatives on marking April 28th - International Day of Girls in ICT.
Supported by the U.S Embassy in Pristina, Kosovo, UN Women Office in Kosovo and Enhancing Youth Employment Project of Helvetas in Kosovo, we brought an offline conference which was held on Thursday, the 28th of April, on the campus of RIT Kosovo.
The conference brought together hundreds of girls interested in the field of ICT, influential actors of the field, inspiring speakers, and companies of the field offering hiring opportunities to the girls.
The conference started with the opening speeches of Ms.Abetare Gojani - Executive Director of IPKO Foundation and Ms.Venera Demukaj - Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at RIT Kosovo. They opened the floor for short-speeches to Ms.Edona Maloku Berdyna - Deputy Minister at Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation; Mr.Joshua Mike - Director, Office of Economic Growth, USAID Kosovo - US Embassy Pristina, Kosovo and Ms.Vlora Tuzi Nushi - UN Women Head of Office.
After the short but inspiring speeches, we were happy to present our speakers: Teuta Hyseni - Senior Security Engineer at Microsoft and Ms.Emblema Zeqiraj - CEO & Founder at Jungle.
Teuta came all the way from the U.S to share her insights and experiences on working on one of the biggest tech companies in the world, Microsoft, where is responsible for leading application security projects, assessing potential flaws within applications, and reviewing the application's architecture. She is committed to educating others on security threats and best practices, maximizing the impact of her security expertise through different talks and mentorship programs. As an advocate for gender diversity, she also has a keen interest in motivating, inspiring, and improving women's participation in the industry.
Our second speaker, Emblema Zeqiraj, works here in Kosovo, where she founded her company, Jungle. She is CEO of the company also and lecturer at Faculty of Economics within the University of Pristina. She has more than 7 [seven] years of experience in the training field, outsourcing dhe business operations.
After the inspiring talks, we had a small reception allowing the girls the opportunity to network with the speakers and the guests, and opened the workshops. These workshops were held by A.U.K Training and Development Institute on different topics, such as: IoT [Connecting Things Arduino Raspberry PI], GIS [Geographic Information System] and Cybersecurity White Hat. These workshops allowed the girls to learn more about the hands-on experience rather than listen to talks. All girls that were part of the conference and workshops were awarded with gift cards from AUK TDI for online trainings.
We topped the day with a job-fair where we hosted tens of local companies and businesses to meet with the young girls and discuss hiring or internship opportunities. A lot of these companies had open positions and found their mates on the 28th!
This year to mark Girls in ICT Day, tens of organizations joined the initiative of the Municipality of Pristina to organize activities and events to promote and empower girls' role in the tech industry in Kosovo. Thus, we combined the annual individual activities into a single calendar for organizing joint activities in 3 days, April 26-28, in a campaign called #VAJZATNETIK22!
We will conclude our blog with the famous and inspiring quote of well-known author, Grey Crown, who says that “Girls with dreams become women with vision”. Let’s remember together that girls need to be the first - not the last - to benefit from tech. Connecting girls to the information and to service they need, both offline and online, is the key to unlocking progress towards gender equality.