On Saturday 25th September CodeGirls Pakistan hosted an online nationwide Mobile Application Development workshop to raise awareness of digital skills training for young women and girls. CodeGirls Pakistan is a women focused initiative that specifically aims to empower women in Pakistan’s Tech industry. This workshop was the first of a series of five workshops that CodeGirls has planned to host in partnership with Tech4Girls, for the promotion of mobile app development and e-Commerce initiatives.
Marking the Girls in ICT Day of Pakistan, the workshop program was partnered with and supported by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication of Pakistan, GSMA, W4, ITU, and EQUALS Global Partnership.
Starting off at 9:00 am, the event was organized and led by CodeGirls Co-founder Ms. Faiza Yousuf and Founder Ms. Shamim Rajani. Following the opening, remarks were shared by representatives of the partners. Namely, Ajmal Anwar Awan, Member of Internal Coordination for the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication Pakistan, Julian Gorman, Head of Asia Pacific for GSMA, Atsuko Okuda, Regional Director of ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, and Lindsey Nefesh Clarke, Founder and President of W4.org. There was a guest speaker session on Online Safety by Fanny Rotino, Child Online Protection officer at ITU.
The bulk of the program was carried by two workshop sessions for all participants on Mobile App Development. The total number of participants met a cap amount of 50 women aged between 18-30, attending from all over Pakistan. Participants were required to be exclusively women from all backgrounds, who can be trained to become skilled technologists and entrepreneurs in the growing IT industry of Pakistan. In this regard, CodeGirls was proud to welcome Mariam Mubeen, an alumnus of their own training program, to talk about opportunities for women in the tech ecosystem.Opening session in full swing.
The purpose of the EQUALS Tech4Girls workshop series is to empower young women in realizing their own potential and overcome gender barriers in Pakistan. Specifically in the IT industry, this workshop aims to create a safe and welcome environment for women who, due to their gender and any other reason, are restricted from accessing the vast possibilities of the technology and mobile industry and e-Commerce platforms. By imparting the ability to build mobile apps on Thunkable, the workshop gives young women a glimpse of the methods they can employ to challenge stereotypes and sets them up as symbols of gender parity, ready to become part of a booming industry as technological experts and creators. The vision of the hosts, partners and the Tech4Girls program is to introduce women as leaders and role models in STEM fields all across South Asia. The Chair of EQUALS Steering Committee, Vanessa Erogbogbo said:
“Today’s workshop is part of this ambitious initiative which has provided training to over 1400 girls and women in 15 countries across 7 continents to date. The large majority of participants in earlier workshops reported that their understanding of STEM and possible career paths within STEM significantly increased and that it had boosted their confidence to further pursue tech studies and careers in the future.”
Previously, the role in technology of most women in Pakistan was limited to that of users and consumers. Tech4Girls wants to ensure that young women have access to the necessary tools to change their status from users and consumers to digital creators and entrepreneurs, under the umbrella of EQUALS Her Digital Skills initiative. In this regard, the participants were also comprehensively taught tips about self confidence and the importance of learning these skills, to move towards a future with inclusive opportunities for leadership. Founder and President of W4.org, Lindsey Nefesh Clarke had this message for the participants:
“To the young women present today who are participating in the Tech4Grils workshop, I would like to emphasize that the career opportunities that become possible when you gain tech skills are vast and super exciting. It is estimated over 90% of future jobs will require tech skills….The message from our team at W4 to you is simple: Go for it.”
Details on upcoming workshops will follow, as organizers Shamim Rajani and Faiza Yousuf have stated that “CodeGirls is happy to host the workshops and would like to do so in the future as well.”
The next workshops are on Mobile Application Development and eCommerce and are planned for October and November 2021. The schedule will be shared via social media in the coming weeks.