Empowering Girls through Education, One Digital Step at a Time — Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

UNICEF Malaysia/2014/Zahri

Ms. Deborah Henry shares the experiences of The Fugee School in using ICT to make a difference to the education of children, especially girls, from the refugee community.

Activate Talk KL explored what happens when one of the most transformative technologies in the world – ICT — meets one of the most transformational forces in the world – education – and unleashes the potential of one of the world’s most untapped resources – girls and women. And what’s at stake, when we don’t.

The talk was held on International Literacy Day, September 8th. It was hosted by UNICEF Malaysia, as one of the featured sessions of the 7th World Summit on Media for Children, held for the first time ever in Asia.

The session was moderated by UNICEF’s Representative to Malaysia, Ms. Wivina Belmonte and featured an all-women panel, with active engagement from the Summit audience and via online media, using the hashtags #UNICEFActivate and #Act4Girls.

“For years, we’ve known about the gender gap in education. Even with far more girls receiving an education than ever before, globally – boys still outnumber girls in school. As is often the case, when a girl is left out in one area, she is likely to be left out in others, as well,” said Ms. Belmonte. “And so it goes with the gender gap in the digital world, where we see a double digital divide when it comes to girls, especially in the Global South.”

The panelists covered a range of dimensions, on issues that affect access to education for girls and young women, and the innovations they’ve come up with to close the gap.

UNESCO’s Programme Specialist for Communications and Information, Ms. Venus Jennings, kicked off the session by highlighting the state of education for girls and the role of ICT and media to enable easier access for girls and young women. Activate Talk KL heard from two young social innovators, Miss Wun Min and Miss Sher Minn, who offer coding courses for girls and young women through their start-up Code Equality. Ms. Rani Wemel of MyMobileUniversity introduced everyone to her mobile application that provides free education online. Another young Malaysian social innovator, Miss Gwen Yi, shared how her personal story in the education system led her to create a community platform for teachers, called Edvenue. Ms. Deborah Henry told the audience how the Fugee School in Kuala Lumpur focuses on one especially marginalized group — Somali refugees, especially girls — based temporarily in Malaysia before their expatriation to third countries. The Fugee School offers them specially designed, free, ICT courses that connect them to educational resources. And Ms. Amelia Gowa of IMPACT emphasized the importance of online child safety, especially for girls.

Members of the audience actively participated in the session during two Q&A sessions, and via live social media posts.


Globally, UNICEF’s Activate Talks bring together innovators, experts and thought-leaders to showcase innovations that deliver progress on major issues confronting the most vulnerable and marginalized children around the world.


Activate Talk KL is part of global initiatives to mark UNICEF’s Year of Innovation for Children, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in November.