In May 2018, a group of women passionate about ICT got together and discussed ways to influence others to join them and to provide upskilling training. They called themselves CocoNECT.
Fast-forward to today, and CocoNECT is now Tonga Women in ICT (TWICT).It aims to empower women and girls to engage with information and communication technologies (ICTs) in a range of exciting ways and fully participate in the ICT industry. They will foster and encourage the participation of women and girls within the Kingdom of Tonga’s ICT industry and provide a voice within the male dominated industry. Their vision is to encourage women and girls to enter the ICT industry without fear of discrimination nor persecution, thus giving them equal opportunity to impact the industry for the better.
TWICT conducted a workshop on 13 August 2021, to mark their newly established NGO which will now be known as Tonga Women in ICT Inc and sponsored by ICDP Australia.
The event had four local speakers and four online:
- CEO MEIDECC: Paula Ma’u
- CEO Education: Dr. Tangikina Moimoi Steen
- Managing Director/Software Programmer: Mrs. Kilimana Mosa’ati Fusitu’a (Also a TWICT member)
- Director of CERT Tonga: Mr. Siosaia Vaipuna
- ICDP – Tina Briggs & Suzanne Orudiana, Pacific Tech Academy – AUSTRALIA
- Women in IT Solomon Islands (WITSI) – Alice Aote’e & Ila Tura – SOLOMONS
- Board Member of PICISOC – Georgina Naigulevu – FIJI
Through our discussions, we realised that all online speakers were Pacific Connect Community members, too!
Tina Briggs (from ICDP) talked about Pacific Connect and ICDP’s journey with TWICT – a relationship that was formed during the early CocoNECT days.. Their support has delivered dialogues for TWICT, mentorship training, opportunitiesto join dialogues in Brisbane and Sydney when borders were still open. Even today, the support is still available to TWICT.. Suzanne Orudiana from WITSI shared her journey and what she’s gained from her time with Pacific Connect and the Pacific Tech Academy which is delivering ICT trainings sponsored by ICDP. Alice Aote’e (Interim President for WITSI) also shared her journey as a Women in ICT in Solomon Islands, and the advantages she has today after joining some dialogues in Brisbane. Georgina Naigulevu from Fiji (PICISOC Board member) joined the discussions in sharing her experiences in ICT over the years and her work alongside ICDP.
One of the TWICT members, Mele Manitisa, shared on social media, “It was so great to be in the same room with fellow Tongan women who are currently pursuing careers in ICT. However, the highlight of the day for me was getting inspired, encouraged, and challenged by leaders and influencers in the field. I hope we use all that has been said and shared as fuel to help in fulfilling the responsibilities ahead of us.”
The president of the TWICT, Seluvaia Kauvaka, reported that 25 women registered for the workshop, 44% are working in Government, and 24% are from private sectors. The workshop also had participants joining from the islands of Vava’u and Ha’apai. The participants range from engineers, software programmers, teachers, cyber security, and media to also human resources personnel.
Currently, TWICT has received over 20 registered females, and they are looking forward to receiving more while they continue conducting awareness programs for the corporation.