Apps and Girls is a Tanzania-based organization that provides free excellent coding skills to young girls in order to bridge the gender gap in ICT (Information and Communication Technologies).
Carolyne Ekyarisiima graduated from ICT and became an ICT teacher at the KIU in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. She was always puzzled to find so few girls in her classes while many boys seemed eager to take ICT courses. Carolyne first opened coding clubs in university to attract more girls into ICT classes. Yet, she soon realized that she had to target even younger girls to make sure that the new generation of female students would undertake ICT courses.
Apps and Girls partners with 9 primary and secondary schools in Dar Es Salaam, and has been training over 240 girls since June 2013. Girls are trained to code their own website in order to implement solutions to social issues they have identified. By the end of the year, the girls are attending a competition where they can champion their own project to win a grant, free trainings and free website hosting. This year the Annual Hackaton and Competition will take place in Dar Es Salaam on December 2014, 12th.
Apps and Girls also provides ICT trainings to housewives, also call Mamas. With the Teknomama programs, women are rained to use properly their phones and computers. Thus, they are even able to help their kids doing their ICT homework, and improve their self-owned business profitability.
Apps and Girls is facing several challenges to develop. First, the lack of computers prevents the organization from welcoming more girls to the training. Second, some parents would refuse their daughters to keep on learning coding and computer sciences as they consider that the Internet is spoiling their girls. « My dad said I should not come anymore. they think Internet is going to spoil me. It’s not good for me » some girls told Carolyne. Some students have already been forced to quit Apps and Girls because of their parents’ s believes or unwillingness to invest in girls’s education.
But she goes on. Carolyne is deeply convinced that ICT are powerful tools to empower women and rise their voices broadly. According to her, women would be able to get better paid jobs, develop their own business or even learn about their rights if they possess the basic ICT skills and proper access to computers. As we interviewed Apps and Girls participants, we also realized that girls are now fully aware of their potential to go to university, get a decent job, and why not becoming change-makers.
Let us introduce you to Winnie Godlove. Winnie is 15 years-old. She has been attending Apps and Girls trainings for 4 months. Besides developing coding skills, Winnie was asked to imagine solutions for a social issue that outraged her. She stood up to fight discrimination against fistulas victims. Her dream is to give voices to the women who recovered from fistula, in order to inform other women about precautions before birth labor, existing treatments, and how to overcome such a tragedy. She also thought of a micro loans system to support women’s economic start-over. Winnie is today building the Fanikisha Mama platform and getting ready for the December Competition.
Carolyne plans to partner with even more schools. « We are planning on building a mobil lab which will reach other schools in other areas » Carolyne said. How one can help Apps and Girls ? Send computers, share Carolyne’s story, and even better : go to Tanzania to volunteer as ICT teacher, business developer or designer ! You won’t regret the experience.