Equal opportunities for all girls: From Australia to Myanmar and beyond
In 1947 my grandparents left Myanmar with their baby daughter and started a new life in Australia. It was difficult for them to leave their country behind, but they had determined that in the post-war period Australia would provide opportunities for a good life for them and their family. As a second-generation Australian (my dad was born in Perth) I reaped the benefits of the life choice made by my grandparents. I was able to enjoy both a secondary and tertiary education, which opened up many prospects for me, particularly in terms of work.
With this family connection, it was incredibly special for me to go to Myanmar with Ericsson to witness firsthand the implementation of our Connect to Learn program. Connect to Learn aims to ensure access to quality education, a fundamental human right, through ICT. The deployment in Myanmar is our largest globally, benefiting up to 21,000 students – half of whom are girls. During the course of the visit, we saw the students taking an English lesson where they were using tablets to learn spelling and pronunciation. Other content has also been developed for the students in their local language.
During a meeting with three female students at the Bago region school, I asked what they liked best about the tablets and internet access, neither of which they have at home. “Googling” was their common answer. And what they loved to search for was current affairs, so they could learn more about their country, and other countries too. One student was particularly keen to learn more about the environment, aspiring to work in disaster relief as an adult. Another said she hoped to develop her skills to be able to do design work using computers.
On that same day, several of my young, female colleagues who joined Ericsson as engineering graduates came to speak to the students about their careers and the work they’ve done to design the mobile network that the students were currently using to access the internet at school.
That day confirmed to me that #WhatIReallyReallyWant is for all girls, no matter where they live – Australia, Myanmar or anywhere else – to have equal opportunities. I want them to be able to access information at all times, experience a quality education, pursue their personal interests and desired careers, and have the opportunity to be financially independent. I also want women to share equally in the distribution of power and influence, as well as the responsibility for their homes and children, and to be completely free from coercion and gender-based violence, both at work and at home.
Gender equality is linked to sustainable development and the realization of human rights for all. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in my life and I’m proud to be working for a company that’s creating opportunities for girls in society, through programs such as Connect to Learn. But we have a long way to go to create equal opportunities for all. In 2015 the World Economic Forum stated that it would take until 2133 to close the gender gap – that’s simply too long. This #GlobalGoals week is a time for us to collectively call for and take action on gender parity. So tell the world what you really really want!
You can find out more about Global Goals Week and the #WhatIReallyReallyWant campaign at: http://www.globalgoals.org/join-the-movement-girls/