“As women we have the potential and we have the ability to be whatever we want to become in this world.” I want to become a Doctor, I want to become an engineer, I want become an IT specialized “are a few of the dreams I listened as every girl got a chance to express themselves during one of the engagement I had. It’s time we ignite young women’s passions and interests in a male-dominated society. Boosting their self-esteem through leadership and building up their skills are among the most important ingredients to support their vision.
One of the key approaches to the challenges young girls face today which are proving to be obstacles to their achievements is to help them familiarize themselves with technology through digital literacy. This will provide practical skills that they can use to access information and will further ensure they do not miss out on the available opportunities for personal, professional development and innovation of the digital revolution, as we continue to make efforts to bridge the existing digital gender gap.
One of the initiatives that we decided to do was to open a center Abetec Business Solutions http://bit.ly/2psl0k9 in peri –Urban area where internet is a challenge and give women and girls an opportunity to access the computers with internet. To learn, find opportunities, connect with the rest of the world, transfer the knowledge to their communities and help in developing the society. Since January we have been able to train 100 youths on basic computer skills and internet usage. Out of the total number 80% are girls a good indication that young girls are taking initiative towards their development. Our long term goal is to help them become engaged in social entrepreneurship that will give them a chance to solve pressing social challenges in their communities.
In her remarks Shelly Esque President, Intel Foundation and Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Intel Corporation on the Web and Women report “The Internet gender gap is particularly salient in developing countries, with very real consequences”. She continues to say “We know that many women who use the Internet derive profound benefits through it, including economic and educational opportunities, a community of support, and career prospects. As the report http://intel.ly/2o8jGCI indicates , expanding Internet access for women would also provide a significant boost to national income”
On our side as champions for change we need to closely work with girls and women to challenge gender stereotypes and achieve long-term change. Other challenges that exist are like, access to affordable internet and digital tools like smart phones, laptops, Computer equipped Centers. We can actively engage other stakeholders to work together to find ways of supporting the girls and women gain access. For example Out of a training of 15 young girls in one class I engaged, 90% had no access to internet,80% had no email addresses,60% had phones which they couldn’t access internet and 95% had to travel miles to access a computers. Despite all this challenges they had a lot of confidence an indication that the young girls can grow up free from gender prejudices and become actors of their own empowerment in all spheres of life and empower others too.
There is also need for mentorship program initiatives that are primarily targeted towards young women. During the evaluation after one of the training, what come out strongly was need for personal development programs,80% of the girls were not sure why they had chosen the courses they wanted to pursue in college and what career path they wanted to take. This makes Digital literacy a priority again; the excitements that come from their faces after the training was a sign that they are on the way to self-discovery and that was very encouraging.
An Interview with one of the participants
- Have ever gone through digital training before……………………..? NO
- What do you think should be included early in school curriculum…………………? Personal Development, digital literacy & Entrepreneurship
- How will use the skills acquired knowledge from the Digital literacy training……………….?
I will be able to access information, to interact with other people and to learn
Photos Courtesy of Alex Muli