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The ICT Division is set to train 30 thousand women in ICT and entrepreneurial skills and scale up ICT in the next three years as part of a flagship program of the UN Asian and Pacific Training Center for ICT for Development (UN-APCICT) in Bangladesh. The program is titled ‘Women ICT Frontier Initiative (WIFI)’ and it launched through a ceremony on July 5, preceded by a two-day training of trainers (ToT) workshop on the July 3 and 4.

Speaker of Jatiya Sangsad Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury inaugurated the program, while other high ranking government officials also attended, including the State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak, who chaired the event and the State minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroze Chumki, who attended as the special guest.

US ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, Australian high commissioner to Bangladesh Julia Niblett, United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (UN-APCICT) director Dr. Hyeun-Suk Rhee and ICT secretary (acting) Subir Kishore Choudhury, among others, also spoke at the event.

Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said that the WIFI program is a timely initiative for the empowerment of Bangladeshi women, as the government is determined to be inclusive of women in building a digital Bangladesh. “The government is continually taking initiatives for women empowerment,” said the Speaker. “And that will ultimately work toward realizing the dream of a digital Bangladesh,” she added.

The State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak said that the ICT division is providing over 100 thousand young men and women with capacity development training under different projects ensuring at least 30 percent women’s participation in all the trainings.

The ICT Division has recently adopted a new project titled ‘She Power’ exclusively for development of 10,500 women entrepreneurs for the ICT industry.

Palak said WIFI program will play an important role in attaining equal participation of men and women in the ICT sector of the country.

Launched in June 2016, the Women ICT Frontier Initiative is APCICT’s flagship ICT capacity development program for creating socially and economically-empowered women through ICT-enabled entrepreneurship. Training program target potential and current women entrepreneurs on how to use ICT in support of their businesses. It also supports policymakers and government officials on creating an enabling policy environment for ICT-empowered women entrepreneurs.

The Government of Bangladesh is adopting the WIFI program in line with its national ICT strategy called Digital Bangladesh, that aims to transform the country into a modern and inclusive knowledge-based society by 2021, not only through development of countrywide ICT infrastructure but also ICT human resource development. Under WIFI, the ICT Division is aiming to provide ICT and entrepreneurship training to 30 thousand women entrepreneurs. The implementation of the WIFI program in the country is undertaken through the cooperation and partnership of stakeholders from government, civil society, and women’s groups and entrepreneur associations. Implementing partners include the Bangladesh Computer Council, the Department of ICT under the ICT Division, Bangladesh Institute of ICTs in Development, and Bangladesh Women in Information Technology.

The United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for ICT for Development (UN-APCICT) will provide strategy support to the WIFI program, while the government of Bangladesh will finance it.

Bangladesh is the fourth country to implement WIFI. Prior to Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka have implemented the WIFI program.

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