The program was launched March 8 by Latvia's first lady, Andra Levite, at the opening of the Riga TechGirls and Latvian Investment and Development Agency international hackathon ‘Women. Technology. Sustainability’.
"The pandemic has impacted everyone around the globe, however, there is evidence to suggest women have experienced a different set of hardships – having to shoulder even more responsibilities at work and home than before," said Levite.
"While International Women’s Day celebrates the true social, political, and economic achievements of and for women, there is no reason to be complacent, but rather an incentive to detect areas that need further action.
"Just remember the brave women who struggled for an International Women’s Day more than a hundred years ago. They did not ask for flowers, they demanded fundamental human rights such as the right to vote and to be elected, reduced working hours, and responsible family planning.
"The technology sector has experienced significant growth. Empowering sustainable innovation and responsible entrepreneurship is promising economic prosperity for all of us... but a majority of employers in the technology sector are facing a serious shortage of available talent, and sadly, only every fifth employed ICT specialist is a woman."
"To make matters worse, overall trends suggest that women’s representation in this sector has been more or less stable at a certain level over the last nine years, without convincing hope for rapid improvement, both in Europe in general, and in Latvia in particular."
"If we are negligent or ignorant to history, occurrences tend to repeat themselves in a miserable way. During World War II, all over the world, women took over responsibilities in factories, companies, and local and national institutions. But after the crisis and the end of the war, men needed work and women were sent home. This is an example of the mistakes from history that we must avoid," said Levite.
"Whether we actively participate in socially important decisions or stand aside, we create the world in which we are living, to something more equal and inclusive or to something worse. Luckily, you, the bright participants of this year’s hackathon, choose to be inspiring idols for the young girls still in school and to prove that technology and science are totally suitable fields for girls and young women.
"It feels like a breath of fresh air seeing you all and talking to you.
"I sincerely encourage women and girls to choose a new challenge, to feel empowered to try something new. The Women in Tech hackathon is a wonderful opportunity to tinker, test and create new ideas – in a friendly and inclusive environment. Feel free to surprise and astonish Latvia, Europe, and the whole world!"
The event “Women. Technology. Sustainability.” is organized by Riga TechGirls and the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) and supported by TechHub Riga, Accenture and Printify. The hackathon is open to anyone, regardless of gender, geographical location or level of experience.
Applications are open until March 12 at: https://eventornado.com/event/hackathon-women-technology-sustainability-2021