Contributing to IT skills development of girls and women in Bosnia and Herzegovina during COVID-19
Michaela Ptackova (Czech Republic) serves as a UN Volunteer Youth Skills Development and Entrepreneurship Officer with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She actively contributed to the immediate COVID-19 response of the IT Girls Initiative, which is jointly implemented by UNDP, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and UN Women, with the support of the Government of Sweden.
The COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on our work with girls and women, imposing social distancing and restricting our physical contact with them. Therefore, in March 2020 we decided to go online and continue empowering girls and women throughout the country. Having Michaela in our team, who shared our mission to ensure that no girls are left behind, was an immensely valuable addition to the team. We were delighted to have her on board, to work with such an enthusiastic person, and to participate in her professional development. --Zerina Mandžo, IT Girls Project Officer, UN Women
The IT Girls Initiative aims to increase the number of girls and women with digital and 21st-century skills, thus contributing to their economic empowerment. It also challenges gender stereotypes in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
The global pandemic made us explore new ways of work and engage in online activities in order to keep empowering girls and women. We did so by bringing knowledge and skills to their homes all around the country, and motivating and encouraging them to consider a career in ICT. For the launch of the #ITGirlsGoOnline campaign, I supported the organization of 13 free webinars offered every Wednesday and Saturday with distinguished female ICT specialists from Bosnia and Herzegovina on topics such as cyber security, project management, data science and biomedical engineering. --Michaela Ptackova, UN Volunteer
Moreover, given the opportunity to moderate a webinar on Living and Working with Robots in Bosnian was a very enriching experience for Michaela, since she had begun to learn the language.
We are extremely grateful for having Michaela on our team. She not only brought a new, fresh perspective to our work, but also worked very hard on overcoming the language barrier by taking intensive Bosnian language classes. This equipped her to moderate one of our webinars during the lockdown. She also used her networks and brought some new partnerships to the IT Girls initiative that I am sure will benefit many girls and women of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I look forward to seeing Michaela excel in the areas of her interest, and I am sure she will remain a strong advocate for equal opportunities for girls and women wherever her next job takes her in the future. --Sara Šaljić, IT Girls Project Coordinator, UNICEF
With the whole campaign, the team reached over 300 participants on the Zoom platform and had around 16,000 views on social media, where the campaign was live streamed.
I believe that letting our girls know that IT Girls are there for them during such unprecedented times was extremely important. In addition to the #ITGirlsGoOnline campaign, I supported the preparation of #PostaniITGirl training on entrepreneurship and web development, which we decided to take online in order to enable more girls and women to benefit in the future. --Michaela Ptackova, UN Volunteer
Finally, during her assignment, Michaela participates in other UNDP initiatives, such as the introduction of STEAM in primary and secondary schools across the country, as well as the provision of assistance to the Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD), empowering civil society in the Western Balkans with a specific focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Roll-out Support and Private Sector Engagement Project.
Having a young and motivated UN Volunteer to support the IT Girls project, but also other projects implemented by UNDP, has proven a mutually rewarding experience. Michaela showed great enthusiasm and proactivity, as well as readiness to learn and contribute to work of UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I believe this has been a great opportunity for her professional and personal development and it is a pity that her current volunteer assignment is limited to 12 months. --Adela Pozder-Čengić, UNDP Sector Leader for Rural and Regional Development