CodeHack Training for Young Girls Women in Kenya Covid-19 Edition Kicks Off

One-hundred fifty (150) young women from six regions in Kenya are participating in the virtual CodeHack training to create their digital response to the pandemic societal challenges.

Through its YouthMobile Initiative and in partnership with the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO and UNDP, UNESCO is supporting CodeHack, an initiative by Pwani Teknowgalz that targets young girls and women aged 17 – 28 years from marginalized communities to learn employable coding skills in website and mobile development, graphics design, and computer programming. Pwani Teknowgalz is a non-profit organization based in Mombasa, Kenya, whose aim is to bridge the gender gap in STEM careers in underrepresented areas.

Organized in three online cohorts, the current edition of CodeHack is targeting 150 young women drawn from 6 regions namely Mombasa, Kisumu, Lamu, Nakuru, Nairobi and Kilifi counties in Kenya and it aims at equipping them with technological and entrepreneurial skills for the local job market. At the end of the training, the young women will be challenged to present their solutions to Covid-19 related societal challenges which they will then showcase to a panel of entrepreneurs and online platforms in Kenya.

On 21 September 2020, the young participants were taken through an orientation workshop in which they were briefed on the trainings’ objectives, methodology, and course modules. As part of the training, they will learn how to develop user interface designs using MIT App Inventor and backend development, as well as how to connect their mobile applications to realtime databases, such as Firebase. This hands-on activity will be complemented with design thinking training sessions, with a view to spark their creativity for innovative solutions addressing societal challenges during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya.

“ICT Skills are important in today’s digital economy. It has been beneficial in my journey, which motivated my colleagues and me to start Pwani Teknowgalz to continue inspiring young women to be part of the digital revolution in our country and beyond.” said Ms Aisha Abdul Qadir, Deputy Director at Pwani Teknowgalz, during the orientation workshop.

The training program will award 3 best innovative solutions per cohort, which will continue to receive mentorship and support from Pwani Teknowgalz after the training.

Ms Charity Wanjiku, Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer at Strauss Energy Ltd, and CodeHack Ambassador encouraged the young women outlining how the programme was an excellent opportunity for them to listen, to connect, network, and acquire necessary skills that will be critical for their career growth and development.

Along the same lines, Ms. Khadija Juma, Grow with Google Manager and CodeHack Ambassador highlighted how the “[…] opportunity to learn is great”. “I wasn’t confident in doing tech because I was in that comfort zone due to the culture”, she said, and added that “The advice I would like to give to young women like me is to be bold and fearless and get out of your comfort zone”.

One of the trainees, Ms. Jenifer Wairimu, Former Miss Tourism Lamu, responded enthusiastically, “I am so excited and lucky to be part of the training. I look forward to learning about coding and I cannot wait to launch my solution. I look forward to sharing what I have learned with other girls in Lamu.”

Ms. Claire Favour Adede from Kilifi and a Renewable Energy, and Environmental Physics Student at JKUAT also said:  “My passion is taking care of the environment, and I aim at bridging the gap between the environment and technology. Having technological skills will make this dream possible”

This activity is being organized as part of UNESCO’s YouthMobile Initiative, in support to activities aimed at spreading computer science education and enabling a creative use of technology for solving local issues of sustainable development. Responding to the objectives of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, YouthMobile puts a particular attention on reducing inequalities and the digital gender gap, as digital and information literacy supports the economic and social empowerment of women. This intervention also contributes to UNESCOs Priority on Gender Equality of ensuring that women are equipped with the knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills to building a sustainable future for all.