The Naparima Girls’ High School (NGHS) Non Nobis Foundation engaged close to 100 women in an empowerment seminar last week Saturday at the school’s auditorium in celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD).
The session entitled, “Surviving and Thriving: DigitAll Technology Strategies for Women” was hosted under the 2023 UN’s IWD theme, DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.
The event was a powerhouse for female hosts and presenters, and some NGHS alumnae, with the programme led by Lara Quentrall-Thomas, past chair, of the Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago. In her opening remarks, Quentrall-Thomas revealed several thought-provoking facts to the audience about women and technology. Quentrall-Thomas shared that a 2022 IDB report stated that only 17 per cent of women started careers in software and programming, while another report covering 51 countries highlighted that almost 40 per cent of women had been harassed online and 85 per cent had witnessed some form of online violence.
“Although advancements in digital technology offer immense opportunities, growing inequalities are becoming increasingly evident in the context of digital skills and access to technologies, with women being left behind as the result of this digital gender divide. The need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education is therefore crucial for a sustainable future,” she said.
Engaging with attendees digitally from overseas was the foundation chairperson, Camille Ramdial-Cumberbatch, who explained the genesis of the fundraiser, “We wanted to align ourselves with the UN’s international theme which focused on digital technology for women, helping women keep themselves safe, while at the same time empowering them with insights as to how to maximise the use of digital technology in helping them become their best.”
Vernisha Ahyoung delivered one of the afternoon’s feature presentations, “ICT Skills Necessary to Excel as a Female Entrepreneur and Leader in a Digital World”. Ahyoung, a digital technology expert with over 25 years of experience in ICT, defined and identified key technology skills required in the 21st Century and highlighted the digital approaches employed over different generations in the workplace from Traditionalists to Generation Z, which was relevant to the diverse group of attendees.
Ahyoung challenged attendees to consider what they needed to learn today to be successful as a leader and entrepreneur of tomorrow, and closed with a motivational quote from Ursula Burns, former chairman of Xerox who said, “Believe that there are no limitations, no barriers to your success...you will be empowered, and you will achieve.”
Michelle Aquing-Bissoon led the next feature presentation “Using Technology to Safeguard Women” alongside members of her team from The Andrea Project. Using in-person and video facilitation, they directly engaged with attendees, guiding them on how to install and activate life-saving digital tools using their smartphones. The objective of this session was to highlight and share strategies aimed at applying technology to tackle gender-based violence.
The Non Nobis Foundation was established on the 100th anniversary of the school in 2012 by past student, teacher and chair of the NGHS Centenary Committee, Dr Jennifer Yamin-Ali, who shared at the event how the foundation was birthed; “I felt that after 100 years, we must do something truly meaningful to ensure that the true philosophical legacy of the school is perpetuated. The motto of the school is Non Nobis Solum Sed Omnibus (Latin for not for ourselves only, but for all). That motto translates into service to others in keeping with the Presbyterian ethic on which this school was founded.”
The NGHS Non Nobis Foundation has hosted volunteer activities over the past 11 years, which included a shoe drive for primary school students, starting a volunteer Club at the NGHS, beach clean-up with NGHS students, visits to senior homes, work with orphanages and an Easter Egg Hunt with the Autism Society of T&T. The foundation has also established an annual educational grant to financially support a student who is transitioning into Sixth Form. The foundation hopes to make its empowerment seminar an annual event for International Women’s Day, which is recognised annually on March 8.