On a mission to close the digital gender gap – Meet the #eSkills4Girls FUND grantees of 2021 currently active across three continents and in eight countries.
The barriers to gender equality are numerous and diverse. Some are deeply rooted in the past, while others are unique to the digital world. Hurdles to access and affordability, inherent biases and sociocultural norms, coupled with lack of educational opportunities and skills, among others, curtail women’s ability to fully benefit from the digital transformation. It is well documented that the fundamental role of education and training is an important factor in overcoming some of these barriers.
In this time of the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting challenges, these organisations, listed below, are to be applauded for their efforts in continuing to empower women and girls with digital skills, and specifically for the innovative projects they are implementing. They constitute the third cohort of the #eSkills4Girls Fund, which operates under the auspices of the EQUALS Global Partnership’s.
The EQUALS Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age is a committed group of corporate leaders, governments, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, academic institutions, NGOs and community groups around the world dedicated to promoting gender balance in the technology sector by championing equality of access, skills development and career opportunities for women and men alike. (Reference: www.equals.org).
The EQUALS Global partnerships has four core focus areas, skills development being one of them. The #eSkills4Girls Fund was established to provide digital skills training for women and girls. This fund supported by BMZ (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development / Germany), provides financial resources to local initiatives in Africa, South East Asia and the Latin America region to provide gender-sensitive skills training.
Role of Cape Town Science Centre
The Cape Town Science Centre (CTSC) will serve as the fund coordinator. The overall management of the fund, including the setting up of the criteria, the evaluation of the proposals, the sub-granting processes and the evaluation will be under the responsibility of CTSC. Any additional funds from external partners would be contributed directly to CTSC as the fund manager. To learn more, please visit: www.ctsc.org.za
Role of Germany
Since Germany’s G20 presidency 2017, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) works on the initiative #eSkills4Girls to overcome the gender digital divide and to promote the participation of women and girls in the digital economy. As former Co-Leader of the EQUALS Skills Coalition, Germany is working very closely with the EQUALS partners to address and narrow the gender digital divide. Germany will finance the EQUALS Digital Skills Fund for the third year. To learn more, please visit: www.eskills4girls.org
Role of EQUALS
EQUALS is a ground-breaking global partnership of corporations, governments, communities, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions around the world working together to bridge the digital gender divide – by bringing women to tech, and tech to women – and in so doing, bettering the lives of millions worldwide. EQUALS helps partners network so they can combine efforts for greater efficiency in their work against that goal. www.equalsintech.org
Contact the Project:
For more information about the #eSkills4Girls Fund, please contact:
Theresa Felino – email@example.com
Julie Cleverdon – firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet the eight partners for the 2021 cohort and learn more about their initiatives:
BINTI-TECH Implemented by CENTRE D’INNOVATION DE LUBUMBASHI from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), AFRICA
The focus of this initiative in 2021 is on training women and girls with little or no digital background and women & girls from disadvantaged communities. Furthermore, the programme is delivered in the language most suitable for each group of participants (French / Swahili).
The targeted groups of participants are as follows:
- Data4Her targets young career women, who partake in workshops to empower them in the field of Data Science as a tool to advance and support their careers and work/projects.
- Code4girls is a programme to ignite a passion for technology in young girls (aged 14 to 18 years), build their coding capabilities as well as vital skills such as teamwork. An intensive coding programme is followed by a hackathon, pitching session and prizes.
- I-MAMA focuses on building digital competency in women entrepreneurs. The program offers a host of digital skills training from basic communication (using emails, WhatsApp, and Facebook) to more advanced skills such as digital marketing, accounting, production and human resources tools and how to use them. Cloud computing (G-suites, Dropbox, and OneDrive) and a special module on building digitally advanced businesses is also included in this programme according to the needs of the participants.
- I-DADA focuses on the basics of digital communication for young girls (aged 13 to 18 years) and specifically on the relevance and use of the internet and being safe online. This programme also guides them on how to build their online presence and immerse themselves responsibly in the digital world.
THE DIGIWOMEN INITIATIVE implemented by PROMANE AND PROMADE LTD from Nigeria, AFRICA
Their initiative, in partnership with Retails Giant Academy and SheLearnsHere, is a grassroots initiative focused on promoting digital skills in low-literacy Northern Central Nigeria for women, which are predominately rural women farmers and are earning little for their wares as well as having limited land ownership rights. The ultimate goal is to ensure the women are able to increase their income through digital skills empowerment, thereby increasing their economic participation and financial independence in the region. Significantly, these women do not have access to digital devices so any training provided would be fruitless without a device. This project therefore allows for participating women to receive a basic low-cost mobile device which will allow the women to implement the digital skills they will acquire in order to advance their economic empowerment journey.
Briefly, the training provided by the programme will include:
- A digital literacy course for all participants using the GSMA Digital Literacy Tool Kit, which is suitable for learning the use of digital technologies for the first time in a standardized manner.
- Further training for selected women on the programme will provide training on the set-up and management of an e-Commerce store. The selected women receiving this specific training will in-turn support their communities by selling their products online via StockerApp Marketplace.
- In addition, a further selection of women participating in this programme will take place and they will be provided with training in digital marketing skills in order to support the e-Commerce store owners. The skills learnt by these women will also be useful for them to provide digital marketing services to others. Courses will include: social media management, Google my Business set-up, WhatsApp for Business, creating marketing content and effective business websites.
WOMEN GOING DIGITAL 2021 implemented BY DEUTSCHE INDUSTRIE- UND HANDELSKAMMER SÃO PAULO (AHK-SP) from Brazil, SOUTH AMERICA
The programme implemented by this partner is an e-learning (virtual) initiative comprising of 16 units, with 40-hours of content on a robust open source platform. This partner, following the overwhelming demand in 2020, is delighted that through this fund they are able to provide this virtual solution of gaining digital skills to more women free of charge in 2021. The target audience is women (aged 18 to 55 years) with a low family income (up to 300 Euros/month), with education from a public school, basic knowledge of English and Office and who are unemployed or in a professional re-orientation. To note, thirty percent of the existing training places available on this programme, will be allocated to women living in a socially vulnerable environment in the periphery of São Paulo.
Furthermore, in addition to the online course, at least five online workshops are being added to deepen the content and provide the opportunity for participants to engage with experts from companies. Above all, these workshops are aimed to keep participants motivated so that they complete the programme.
CODEHACK TRAINING FOR YOUNG GIRLS IN KENYA COVID-19 EDITION 2021 implemented by PWANI TEKNOWGALZ from Kenya, AFRICA
This is a virtual program that aims to equip young women (aged 17 – 28 years) from marginalized communities within six counties in Kenya that is Mombasa, Nairobi, Kilifi, Lamu and Nakuru, with employable coding skills in website development, mobile app development, and digital marketing. This is geared toward empowering these young women with technology skills that have proved crucial during this Covid-19 pandemic. The training will assist the participants, using their newly acquired skills, to leverage the increasing number of internet users and contribute to the growing digital economy. This will enable them not only to consume technological mobile solutions but also to be part of creating the solutions to community challenges aligned with the sustainable development goals.
Activities the young women will partake in include an introduction to design thinking, how mobile apps are designed, practical exercises to build skills in coding, app design and User experience, and the use of using block-based text in coding.
Participants will create and prototype a mobile app with an excellent user interface, and will also be empowered with digital marketing, product launch and management skills to promote their app among other useful skills. The young women on this programme will form a community of female coders by creating and running an active WhatsApp Group.
PRO DIGITAL INCLUSION – GIRLS CODE 21 implemented by TOGETHER CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATION from Ethiopia, AFRICA
This programme brings together girls with different (dis)abilities, age, national and cultural backgrounds and young women who are trained in digital and entrepreneurial skills and experienced in coding and who will share their skills and knowledge with these young girls. This is an inclusive and participatory project for girls and young women between the age of 18 – 24, where each of the more experienced young women, will take the lead and proactively build a diverse girls’ group.
These groups will include an intensive peer to peer process between these experienced young women and the young girls (this will include girls with (dis)abilities and refugee girls). Together they will explore their challenges in the digital world of today, define their interests in order to learn the required digital skills to design a digital project within this year. The digital projects they will be encouraged to create provide digital solutions for emerging societal problems due to the current Corona COVID-19 pandemic.
The projects are likely to be at least five prototypes of web pages to make life easier in times of COVID-19.
TECHPEARL SOCIAL ENTERPRISE from Malawi, AFRICA
It is TechPearl’s Vision is to create a generation of female digital leaders in Malawi where only 8.4 percent of individuals use a computer. The proportion of individuals that use a computer is higher in urban areas as compared to rural areas, these figures are exacerbated by poor socio-economic conditions and of course by the Covid Pandemic.
Their initiative, based in the capital of Lilongwe, aims to provide a powerful hands-on program to young women who are no longer at school and who are seeking training to develop digital skills to apply in the workplace.
The training offered to these young women will include various computer courses, training in mobile application development, as well as entrepreneurship training. The trainees will be encouraged to participate in a hackathon where they will develop mobile apps based on what they have learnt. The top five winners of the hackathon will be incubated as start-ups at TechPearl to venture into the technology business arena.
WOMEN IN DIGITAL from Pakistan, SOUTH ASIA
Their initiative focuses on women from all parts of Pakistan and in particular targets individuals from rural areas who have limited access to resources due to their location and who are less-privileged. It also targets audiences who would like to work online, enabling them the opportunity to earn from home. Their approach is two-fold:
- The first approach is geared towards women coming from IT or non-IT sectors who are willing to make a career change and gain technical knowledge and expertise in the ﬁeld of IT. The training provided in this approach will be core courses such as Basic to advanced coding, using the internet with an emphasis on online safety, graphic design, web development and other relevant skills. Soft skills will also be given attention such as effective communication. Subject matters such as outsourcing, freelancing and Basic English will also be addressed. The support will not stop here, Women in Digital will introduce them to the job market and assist them as far as possible in acquiring employment in their desired field. Mentorship being a key component of this first approach.
- The second approach empowers women through e-businesses. Once again the women from rural parts of Pakistan are targeted. This training will be focusing on aspects such as digital marketing, product (hand-made wares) quality checking, e-commerce entry, photography and many more courses based on their specific needs. In addition to these skill sets, they will also be taught to ride bicycles so that commuting to different locations within the area will be easier and eﬃcient. These women will ride to various places to take pictures of products, which they will be sending to their leads, who in turn will ensure editing and uploading on online platforms. Interested buyers can then buy these products, enabling a good source of income, digitally.