Code initiative empowers young women in Mamelodi

The African Girls Can Code Initiative participants during the camp in Mamelodi. l SUPPLIED

The African Girls Can Code Initiative participants during the camp in Mamelodi. l SUPPLIED

Published Jul 6, 2024


The African Girls Can Code Initiative held a coding camp in Mamelodi this week to equip young women in TVET colleges with robotics skills.

This initiative is implemented in South Africa by the United Nations Women's Agency, South Africa Multi-Country Office in partnership, with the Department of Higher Education and Training, and the Department of Science and Innovation. It is supported by Siemens and the Belgian government.

The programme introduces students to computer science and next-generation technologies, user interface/user experience, website development, mobile applications development, robotics, and programming.

According to the UN Women Gender Snapshot 2023, women held only one in five sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs in 2020.

They said women were twice less likely than men to know a computer programming language, based on data from 62 countries, and hold fewer than 25% of science, engineering and ICT jobs globally.

“The lack of representation in the burgeoning AI industry has already negatively affected the technology's ability to adequately address women's needs and support them,” said the organisation.

As part of their efforts to contribute to solutions on the African continent, UN Women, along with the African Union Commission, implemented the programme with the International Telecommunication Union in 2018.

Representative of UN Women in the South Africa Multi-Country Office, Aleta Miller, said they were thrilled to have the African girls can code initiative in South Africa with special focus on young women at tertiary institutions.

"As convener of the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Technology and Innovation, UN Women consistently calls for the inclusion of women and girls in tech, African girls can code initiative translates this into action by providing technical and leadership training, and fostering career development for young women,” she said.

Miller said, the programme directly tackled gender stereotypes and societal biases, encouraging more girls to pursue STEM careers.

The coding camp for TVET students focused on robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and micro science.

“A selected group of young women from Mamelodi TVET college also participated in the programme. The South African cohort is part of a larger group of girls on the continent who have received similar training in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Burundi, Mali, Niger, DRC, and Senegal,” she added.

Director of social inclusion and equity at the Department of Higher Education and Training, Sesi Mahlobogoane, said the department was excited to participate in this important initiative which will bring positive change in the lives of young women and encourage them to take up STEM courses.

“The department, through its career development services, has been encouraging young women to enrol for STEM courses, and provided funding for such, but the numbers have not been increasing as desired. Therefore, this initiative is a step in the right direction,” she said.

The young participants also learnt about gender equality and women's empowerment and what inclusion in the ICT sector will mean for progress and diversity.

Assistant director of Africa multilateral cooperation at the Department of Science and Innovation, Siegfried Tivana said, the department of science and innovations’ participants in the African girls can code initiative contributed to the realisation of government’s commitment to enable all children and adults to become digitally literate as outlined in the 2019 White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation.

“The initiative addresses the second societal grand challenge on the future proofing of skills and education set out in the Department of Science an Innovation’s decadal plan by providing an opportunity to leverage STI for rapid and maximum positive impact on education and skills,” Tivana said.

She added that, the initiative also supported the government’s efforts to promote one of the aspirations of Agenda 2063, The Africa We Want – which calls for well-educated citizens and skills revolution underpinned by Science, Technology and Innovation.

Pretoria News

[email protected]