Since Tonga’s first Women in ICT meeting, held over coffee in June 2018, the group has held a monthly meeting where we come together to talk and catch up as a group.
Our numbers have grown in this time, from less than 10 women at our first meeting to an email distribution list of about 30 covering many areas of ICT, including engineering, education, security and media.
We also officially launched our group as a NGO and decided upon the name ‘Tongan Women In ICT’ as it is more professional than our original name, CocoNect.
At our meetings we come up with initiatives to pursue, including:
- Trying to source funds for projects
- Planning a hackathon to be held in Tonga
- Building awareness of the group
- Attending workshops and other events
- Capacity building
- New projects for the group
Meetings are mainly based in the Ministry of Information and Communications conference room, as the CEO and directors support the group fully. We sometimes hold our meetings in the conference rooms of the members of the group, such as the statistics department and others.
Building awareness, capacity and relationships
Over the course of our meetings, we noticed that we barely had any members in senior roles in ICT. As a result, and as way of motivating and empowering each other, we invited a guest speaker to our most recent meeting to talk about leadership and personal growth.
We have been working with Australia’s International Centre for Democratic Partnerships (ICDP), a non-profit organization supporting women’s empowerment and use of ICT. Three members of our group have attended ICDP workshops in Australia.
Awareness of our group in the community has grown, and we have been invited to talks locally and in the region. We have also been working with Women in ICT Solomons to share information and learn from each other.
Group members participate in APNIC’s Women in ICT Mailing List (APAC ICT Women), and we often share the information from there on our Facebook page and in our monthly discussions.
Continuing to grow
Tongan Women in ICT has a lot of plans we wish to pursue, which we feel can make a difference. Projects that foster skills development, capacity building and empowerment are high on the list of priorities, and we are looking at funding technical certifications for group members in the longer term. This all, of course, depends on whether we can secure the funds to make our projects happen.
Being a part of Tongan Women in ICT and seeing how we have grown has been an exciting journey so far, and I’m sure it will continue to be in the future.
Seluvaia Kauvaka is a Senior System Analyst at Tonga’s Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC).
The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.