Digital Skills | Youth
August 12, 2019

Empowering girls to code for a bright and promising future

By Betty G

African Girls Can Code Initiative (AGCCI) is a four-year programme designed to train young girls to become programmers and ICT creators, and encourage further education and careers in technology. Launched in 2018, the AGCCI is a joint initiative between ITU, UN Women and the African Union Commission, which holds several camps throughout the year across Africa.

From 29 July to 16 August 2019, 450 girls are participating in three coding workshops and talks being held in Addis Ababa, Adama and Awassa as part of the AGCCI initiative.

For World Youth Day, ITU asked Betty G, a singer/songwriter from Ethiopia and Girls in ICT Day champion, to explain why she is an advocate for girls in technology and to share her experiences from her visit to the African Girls Can Code Initiative workshop in Addis Ababa.

In April this year, Betty G participated in the global celebration of Girls in ICT Day at an event organized by ITU in Addis Ababa. She visited two schools, where she advocated for Girls in ICT and encouraged girls to pursue technology studies.

Girl prepares a circuit board

We live in a world full of technology where everything we do is supported by it. Technology is making our lives better and easier. But as it becomes more advanced – like AI, driverless cars and virtual reality – those without the skills to participate will be left behind.

In fact, technology will create 133 million new jobs around the world by 2022, according to the World Economic Forum. That is why it is especially important that we champion getting more girls involved in the technology field so they can access these job opportunities.

Coding is important for everyone; it’s a different and very useful way of teaching logic and broadening creativity skills while teaching the ability to apply skills to real world situations. Not only is it an instrument for education and the future of work, it is also a tool for empowerment.

The African Girls Can Code initiative teaches girls how to programme robots, to create animations and code with Scratch; each time they would try something new, they would change their mind-set of “I can’t” to “I can”.

Seeing a promising future meant the world to me, especially in my hometown of Addis Ababa. It was inspiring to see girls ready to learn and face the challenges put in front of them.

That is why I think that we need more events as engaging and participatory as African Girls Can Code. The more we teach and show them how to use these core skills, the better these young girls’ choices will be in life.

Creating platforms for women to collaborate and share their knowledge of coding and technology in general will yield fruitful results for everyone. Young women and girls can have a huge impact on the growth of Africa’s technology ecosystem. If taught to trust in their ability, women challenge existing stereotypes and narratives; they create vibrant, innovative working environments and inspire others to follow their lead.

Being a girl in a developing country is very challenging; in many places, we don’t have equal access to basic services like health, employment and education. So, supporting young women and girls in technology education will not only change their lives, but will help them pave a smooth path for their families, their countries and the entire continent.

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ITU is the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology. Any opinions expressed and statistics presented by third parties do not necessarily reflect the views of ITU.

Empowering girls to code for a bright and promising future

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