Kilakala High School students receive laptops to further their dream in CODING

“We see great opportunities in using technology to create political and economic inclusion and readiness for the job market of the future,”

The Danish Ambassador to Tanzania, Her Excellency, Mette Nørgaard Dissing-Spandet handed-over laptops to form four and form six students at Kilakala High School in Morogoro.

This was part of UN Women’s four-year programme, the African Girls Can Code Initiative (AGCCI), which aims to bridge the technological divide through increasing women and girls’ access to modern technology and supporting their empowerment through education and employment. In the programme, UN Women is working in partnership with the African Union (AU) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) through funding from the Government of Denmark.

11 February is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which focuses on the reality that science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of internally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, longstanding biases and gender stereotypes continue to steer many girls and women away from science-related fields. Globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in Information Communication Technology at 3%; while in natural science, mathematics and statistics women and girls constitute only 5%; and 8% in engineering, manufacturing and construction.

Hodan remarks on the handout ceremony

Ambassador Dissing-Spandet said through the African Girls Can Code Initiative, the Government of Denmark aims to spark girls’ interest in Information Technology (IT) and create supportive learning and professional environments that neutralize gender stereotypes and challenge the existing myths about young women, who choose a career in IT. She explained that Denmark has a vision of how the transformation towards a digital world can revolutionize the lives of women and girls. “We see great opportunities in using technology to create political and economic inclusion and readiness for the job market of the future,” she said explaining that: “So far, we are only scratching the surface of something big. We must embrace this development with innovative thinking. We must reach out to women and girls and harness the fruits of the digital revolution. There is a huge untapped potential in girls. In girls, in girls’ education, and girls’ integration in the IT industry. For the sake of our economies, and the sake of our girls,” she said.

The first group of girls who received Laptops are Maryam Said and Thereza Joseph – both in Form Six and studying Physics, Chemistry and Biology; and Devotha Robert and Joan Mseti who both passed their Form Four examinations and are now waiting to pursue science subjects at Advanced Level in July this year. The UN Women Representative, Ms Hodan Addou said if African girls and women are to be part of the fast-growing sectors in the future job markets, they need to be able to develop the ICT skills needed. “As we commemorate 25 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action this year, we need to reinvigorate progress in addressing the technological divide and invest more in women and girls; science and technology education; and therefore, transform negative attitudes and subsequently spark the interest in sciences among women and girls. We also need to implement laws, policies and regulations that seek to leverage technology to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment,” she said.

Student appreciating support from UN Women and Danish Embassy

UNESCO’s “The Gender Gap in Science” report cites that globally, only 28.4 per cent of people engaged in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers are women and those based in the Sub Saharan Africa are only an average of 30 per cent. Other studies also show that women’s education, financial and digital inclusion relative to men are also below the world’s average. Ms Addou said the slow progress in embracing gender diversity in sectors that remain male-dominated is among reasons contributing to the current slow progress in achieving gender parity. Some studies even show that Africa will take more than 140 years to achieve gender parity.

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Author
Tsitsi Matope
Communications Specialist
UN Women
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UN entities involved in this initiative
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women