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Building Africa Closing the gender tech gap; a GE initiative

Research by Intel shows that the average developing country has 25% fewer women online than men. But in Sub-Saharan Africa, this figure is 45%.

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play Research by Intel shows that the average developing country has 25% fewer women online than men. But in Sub-Saharan Africa, this figure is 45%.
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In Africa, where education is seen as a blessing, children are hungry to learn and often walk long distances to attend school. But according to UNESCO, many children do not have the opportunity to attend school because their labour is needed to either help at home or bring additional income into the family.

Through education, children can help uplift their families by learning skills that will enable them to find sustainable jobs. But like children all over the world, these children also need to understand what opportunities exist and why education can help deliver a better future.

The Nigerian government is ready to meet this challenge and remains committed to improving literacy and extending education opportunities to all children. While education is free and a right for all children in Nigeria, 4.7 million children are not in school. Of these 4.7 million children, most concerning is that there is a significant gender gap, with some states having ratios as high as one girl to three boys in school.

Most recently,  a Nigerian non-Governmental Organisation committed to empowering young women with tech skills, Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W-TEC), collaborated with GE to host a ‘Girls in Technology Day’ in Lagos to help inspire the next generation of Nigerian women in IT. Some of the girls who attended the event travelled from across Nigeria to learn more about the world of technology and the career opportunities that might exist for women in the field. The tailored programme introduced the students to basic coding and blogging. They also learned about WordPress as a content management system. Mentors from GE Women’s Network – a group which fosters the professional growth and development of women working at GE by providing coaching on career paths, flexibility and role models – shared their passion and career highlights to give the attendees an idea of what life could be like as an IT professional.

Founder of W-TEC, Oreoluwa Somolu knows well the transformative power education combined with a passion for learning can have on someone’s life. As a child growing up in Nigeria, her father shared his love of IT by introducing her to her first computer, the Commodore 64, when she was nine years old.

“When reflecting on how I had entered a male-dominated industry, I realised that with hindsight it was the early exposure to the digital world that so shaped my life,” said Oreoluwa Somolu. “I wanted to share my passion for IT with other Nigerian women, which led me to founding W-TEC. Five thousand students have now passed through W-TEC’s program. What an incredible adventure it has been.”

 

“I’ve learnt a whole lot more than I expected. I am inspired to have a career in ICT (Information and Communications Technology),” said Rosemary Adibie, one of the girls at the event. “ICT is not a career for boys only, it is a career for girls and boys because what a man can do, a woman can do better.”

Sakinah Ibrahim, a high school student attended the event to explore opportunities and try to determine what course to choose when entering university next year. “I enjoyed the excursion, meeting people in IT and hearing from a corporate lawyer” said Sakinah. “It has been a huge morale boost and, by the end of this camp, I now know what I want to do with my life.”

GE donated 18 laptops to W-TEC to help provide the necessary technology for students to learn more about the digital world. This effort is in line with GE’s overall workforce development plan in Nigeria, where it currently employs over 500 people.

“It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to collaborate with W-TEC to help educate women in a field they may not have previously had access to,” said Tanya Spencer, Marketing Executive, GE Oil & Gas – Sub Saharan Africa. “The excitement students have when the world of technology is opened up to them is both rewarding and inspiring,“ she added.

 

Research by Intel shows that the average developing country has 25% fewer women online than men. But in Sub-Saharan Africa, this figure is 45%. The challenge, therefore, remains to significantly reduce this online gender gap and to ensure that steps are taken to inspire women to enter into IT careers that have the potential to transform their lives.

For more info on General Electric's endeavors in Africa visit:- http://www.gereportsafrica.com

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