By Gabriel Olawale
In its bid to bridge the gender divide in tech ecosystem in Nigeria and to empower women to be self-reliant and employable, Tech4dev a non-profit social enterprise that seeks to create proactive and reactive technological solutions to help solve the world’s greatest problems has graduated about 450 women coders from the Nigerian Women Techsters, NWT first cohort of training.
NWT, an initiative aimed at helping young women between the ages of 18-40 acquire coding skills was supported by Microsoft.
The training which took place in Ondo, Ekiti and Oyo State began on 11th November in which women were trained in the three training tracks of Web and Mobile Applications Development, Embedded Systems and Games Development as well as an online business training module.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony, Project Lead, SeedDev, Kiitan Aboluwarin stressed the importance of creating an enabling environment for women to thrive in the tech ecosystem.
Aboluwarin admonished the beneficiaries of 12 weeks extensive training to never get too comfortable but to constantly seek knowledge.
One of the key note speaker from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Dr. Ronke Thompson encouraged beneficiaries of the programme to see themselves as activists for other women by pressing for improved conditions and access to development training.
Philanthropy Lead at Microsoft Nigeria, Olusola Amusan, reiterated that Microsoft believes that empowering women in STEM fields drives economic growth, equality and innovation. We want to create a culture where more women are attracted to the STEM fields and believe in themselves as having a career path in the technology industry.
“Despite the stats, a new generation of ‘girl geeks’ are making a real mark on the technology sector and propelling the economic growth of their countries forward, like Senegalese, MariémeJamme, CEO of IT organisation, SpotOne.
We need more female leaders like this. It is hard enough to navigate a career path without a mentor, particularly without female mentors in STEM that can act as ambassadors for young women” he said.
Speaking on her experience as a participant, NgoziAduloju, 40-year old mother of four said “For me, the Games Development class has not only impacted my life but has set a lot of things in motion for my future and that of my generation. I have a 13 year old son who picked up interest in my classes, we became a team; studying and watching online tutorials together.
“I now have an understanding of what it takes to make a game and have become more appreciative of what it takes to conceptualize a game that can actually keep me interested. I also totally agree that educating a woman implies educating a nation because my kids have developed some interest in coding and they share this interest with their friends too. That way, we keep spreading the attitude.”
The graduating participants presented their team projects, pointing out their relevance to sustainable development in their communities; from games that can help sensitize the public on Lassa fever, devices that are useful in smart farming an application that allows people to donate used books, etc.
While speaking at the event, LaideAjanaku, Communications Lead, Tech4dev, said “The project is set for a period of three years during which Tech4Dev as well as other supporting agencies intend to take the programme to other African counties thereby giving African women an opportunity to develop themselves.
“This vision is what is taking us to the United Nations Commission for the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York. We hope to be able to meet with other people from other nations who are passionate about leveraging ICT to better the lot of women in their communities and share our ultimate goal with them.”
Speaking on the long term lifespan of the Project, Peace Odili, Education Programs Manager, Tech4dev opined that hopefully, in the next three years, the organisation would have been able to get a very reasonable number of African women to become tech mavens in their communities.
She also announced that the award presentation in Oyo State was billed for the 24th of March at Seed of Life Schools, Eleyele, Ibadan, Oyo State.
The following categories of awards were presented to participants in both states and in all training tracks, the Most committed Participants, NgoziAduloju – Games Development; AdaezeTimilehin – Web and Mobile Applications Development; Best Team Project- Team J-slider; Best Students (Online Training); AdejokeIfafesobi- Embedded systems; OlubunmiFatoba– Web and Mobile Applications Development; Lawal Mariam -Embedded systems; Oluwatimilehin Adaeze-Web and Mobile Applications Development; Otenaike Oluwakemi-Web and Mobile Applications Development; Fatoba Oluwaseyi-Web and Mobile Applications Development; Most Outstanding Story, Ngozi Aduloju and Adedipe Fumilayo; Most Consistent Participants, Ojo Damilola and AwhobiwomAgba