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Addressing the digital gender divide in Africa through the African Girls Can Code Initiative

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Addressing the digital gender divide in Africa through the African Girls Can Code Initiative

The first phase of the African Girls Can Code Initiative (AGCCI) trained 600 girls

NEW YORK, United States of America, October 7, 2021 / APO Group / –

Globally, 3.7 billion people do not have access to the Internet. Half of them are women. In some parts of the world, the digital gender divide has narrowed, but data shows it is widening in Africa.

The pandemic has shown that access to technology is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity, especially for girls. There is a global digital gender divide: girls are disadvantaged in digital adoption, have lower levels of access and use of digital technology than boys, and often they do not benefit. not digital technology like the boys.

To address this, UN Women, in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the International Telecommunications Unit (ITU), implemented the African Girls Can Code Initiative to train African girls in essential skills. coding and technology. Launched in 2018, the first phase of the African Girls Can Code Initiative (AGCCI) trained 600 girls, developed a guide on integrating ICTs, gender and coding into national programs across the continent, launched a platform – e-learning form and organized a series of webinars to continue learning during the pandemic.

This year, the Generation Equality Forum, organized by UN Women and the governments of France and Mexico in collaboration with civil society, launched a revolutionary action coalition on technology and innovation for gender equality and gathered commitments from around the world, including the leader of the action coalition, the Government of Rwanda. The Action Coalition will address the digital gender divide as its importance grows with the COVID-19 pandemic and measures to contain it.

As we celebrate International Day of the Girl, let’s hear from some of the participants of the African Girls Can Code Initiative share what they learned on this trip.

Mariam Said Muhammed, Tanzania

Mariam Said Muhammed, 22, didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life until she joined the African Girls Can Code Initiative.

“My family really wanted me to study medicine, and it was something that was forged in me from the start, so I accepted it,” says Muhammed. “However, other than knowing that I wanted my work to benefit society, the idea of ​​studying medicine did not motivate me. It wasn’t until I joined AGCCI that I felt like I discovered what I was really supposed to do with my life. The African Girls Can Code initiative has really helped me understand what I want.

Muhammed’s family did not immediately support the idea, even meeting with her teachers to discuss what careers would be available to her in the field of ICT.

“Through the program, I learned about website building and online entrepreneurship and started a small business where I sell various items like clothes, shoes and bags, ordering them online and online. selling them to customers. I plan to use my skills to develop an online store where customers can purchase items directly from the website.

But for Muhammed, studying ICT is not just about career goals.

“That’s what excites me,” she says. “I am currently studying IT in India and I particularly love Artificial Intelligence and explore the different ways that technology and innovation can make our lives easier and help us get things done faster. When I graduate my dream is to use my knowledge, skills and education to help society. I also want to be able to mobilize young people to become digital entrepreneurs. I also want to create a website to help raise funds for orphanages.

Muhammed also dreams of passing on his love of coding to others by building a school or center that can teach girls and boys coding and other technical skills that can be of use to them. She hopes others can achieve their goals through technical skills.

“To my peers, I would say follow your heart and your dreams, because when you really love something, you work hard for it. Now is the time for many women to get involved in technology and benefit society as a whole.

Yordanos Genanaw, Ethiopia

“Two women have inspired me in this life: my mother, who taught me to be a hard worker and resilient, and Malala Yousafzai, who fights for the right of girls and children to education, even at the risk. of his life. I had the privilege of meeting Malala through the African Girls Can Code initiative, ”says 20-year-old Yardanos Genanaw.

In addition to meeting one of her models, through the African Girls Can Code Initiative, Genanaw learned animation, art and fashion, genre, games and robotics, as well as business skills like public speaking.

Now Genanaw, who is developing her own website, is using her own skills to benefit her community and inspiring other girls to learn basic coding and computer skills.

“I advise other girls and young women not to be shy and to consider studying STEM and pursuing a career in IT and technology,” she says. “There is a great gender imbalance despite the fact that women contribute the same as men to the economy and development, but because they have no opportunity in STEM, it is difficult for them to contribute significantly in the technology and computer industry. Although this is the trend all over the world, I think this situation is more serious in the developing world where access to education is more difficult. “

According to Genanaw, the best way to empower women and girls is to make education and technology more accessible.

“Without access to technologies and skills, girls will have fewer employment opportunities and face various obstacles in the future, especially now that digital skills are so needed and will be essential, in the wake of the pandemic. COVID-19, ”she says.

Thereza Joseph John, Tanzania

Thereza Joseph John, 22, was born into a large family, the eldest of five children. Originally, she wanted to be a doctor because she saw how her grandmother’s work as a nurse benefited people.

“As a child, I didn’t know that with the knowledge of technology and the integration of technology into health services, I could make my helping others more effective,” says John. “I am now pursuing a degree in business and technology in health services. “

John, who knew nothing about coding before, attended a two-week African Girls Can Code Initiative training camp and not only learned coding and technology skills, but also gained confidence in his skills. own ability to lead and advance technology as a young woman.

“The program has changed my life, especially from a technological point of view where I realized how much women can be involved in technology and innovation. It changed my mindset and perspective on women in tech, and I particularly remember them telling us at camp how research shows women tend to have more creative and innovative solutions. to solve societal challenges.

After the program, John returned to his school, ready to pass on his new skills and understand that women and girls can be successful in technology to others.

“I took the opportunity to share my experience with other girls and make them aware of the importance of ICTs, as many schools do not have ICT in their curriculum and do not have the tools and tools. resources necessary for students to acquire the practical skills they need, ”she said. “I would tell every girl in Africa or in the world to really take ICT into consideration and consider it as a career option, because technology is involved in every development in the world. We are in this marathon of creating the Africa we want, and technology is essential. I wish every girl in Africa to have similar opportunities to participate in initiatives such as AGCCI.

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