Tanzanian underprivileged women empowered through digital technologies

Xinhua Xinhua

25th Oct, 2021. 01:30 pm

DAR ES SALAAM: Twenty-one-year-old Nancy Kaale, a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology graduated from the Institute of Finance Management (IFM) in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam wore a broad smile as she explained how a social enterprise is opening doors for employment to young girls and women.

Kaale is among more than 34,000 young girls and women from underprivileged backgrounds that have benefitted from information, communications and technology programmes undertaken by Apps and Girls, a Tanzanian social enterprise that empowers girls to create the world they want to live in using technology.”I joined Apps and Girls in 2015 when I was in Form IV at a public secondary school.

Apps and Girls visited our school and established a coding club in which I joined,” she told Xinhua in a recent interview.

She said what motivated her to join the social enterprise is the technological knowledge and skills that it was providing, adding that after she had completed her training, Apps and Girls employed her as a training and outreach officer in January 2021.

“We are working to increase the number of girls in ICT, because it is in ICT where the future is,” said soft-spoken Kaale.

Carolyne Ekyarisiima, the founder and chief executive officer of Apps and Girls, said the social enterprise started operations in 2014 and the main reason was to bridge the gender gap in Tanzania and globally, and to empower girls and young women with skills and tools and self-esteem to be able to create a better world they want using technology.

“Some of the women trained by Apps and Girls are creating opportunities that other women are benefitting from in solving community problems,” she told Xinhua.Ekyarisiima said Apps and Girls has reached more than 34,000 girls and young women in more than 190 public schools, thousands of ICT teachers in different public schools and thousands of boys who join Apps and Girls coding clubs.

“We have seen girls who have been able to create devices like sanitary pads vending machines which have been installed in public schools and the vending machines help to dispense sanitary pads to girls who cannot afford to buy the whole packet,” said Ekyarisiima.

Girls and young women in Apps and Girls have not only excelled in creating innovations but the social enterprise’s interventions have also improved their academic performance in ICT enabling some of them to acquire full scholarships in prominent colleges and universities worldwide, she said.

The future of Apps and Girls looks bright as it works hard in investing in young women as potential tech entrepreneurs, tech creators, tech role models and leaders in Tanzania and across sub-Saharan Africa.

On October 22, Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa presented to Apps and Girls with The Best ICT Incubation Hub in Tanzania Award in recognition of the outstanding job that Apps and Girls is doing to girls and young women, and the Overall Winner of the ICT Award of 2021 in Tanzania.

The awards were given to Apps and Girls by state-run ICT Commission during the 5th ICT annual conference in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha and they were sponsored by various companies, including Huawei, a Chinese multinational technology corporation.

Apps and Girls is also the recent recipient of the 2nd Winner of the Best ICT Practice Organisation supporting the youth in Africa organised by the Africa Telecommunications Union and The International Telecommunications Union supported by Intel, Huawei, AfriLabs, the African Union and other organisations.

“These awards are motivational to us, bringing a lot of encouragement and a lot of credibility,” said Ekyarisiima.

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