Microsoft and Tech4Dev have partnered to equip women and girls in Africa with technology skills.
Under the Women Techsters Initiative, the women and girls aged 16 to 40 from across 54 countries in Africa, will be put through a one-year fellowship program. They will learn different skills including software development, product design, product management, data science, artificial intelligence engineering and cyber security, among others.
Microsoft Philanthropies for Middle East and Africa, Director, Ms Ghada Khalifa said empowering women and girls with tech skills accelerates their access to decent jobs.
“When we empower girls and women in the ICT industry, through greater access to skills and training, we not only unlock innovation, but also economic opportunities,” said Ms Khalifa during the launch of the partnership on March 8.
With the tech skills, the beneficiaries are expected to start tech-enabled businesses and deep tech start-ups, thereby promoting the continent’s economic growth.
Tech4Dev Executive Director Ms Diwura Oladepo said the initiative will bridge the gender gap in the technology space in the continent.
“Empowering young women across Africa will help achieve a male-female ratio balance in the technology space, while providing them with useful skills to build more efficient businesses, or rewarding careers using technology,” she said.
In Africa, the African Union (AU) encourages countries to allocate one per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) for research and development to enhance Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) innovations. This is an enticement provided for under the AU’s Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) on matters of science, technology and innovation (STI) to which the 55 member States ascribe to.
Gender balanced society
During 25th High Level Dialogue (HLD) on Gender in Education held on February 2, 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta urged member States to end cultural practices that hinder girls and women from advancing in Stem education and careers.
“We must now take deliberate actions to address the patriarchal and socio-cultural factors…that have remained a hindrance to realisation of an equitable and gender balanced society,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by Cabinet Secretary for Gender and Public Service Prof. Margaret Kobia
He said with technology, African countries can create an enabling environment where every boy and girl can capitalise on their potential.