International Women’s Day (IWD) was held on March 8, 2018. IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The theme this year was “Press for Progress.”
In Kenya, Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) celebrated this year’s IWD at Huruma Girls High School and partnered with the Women in ICT Initiative (WICT) of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) to host the event. 40 girls, aged 14 to 17 years attended. In addition to technology inspired workshops presented by YTF, there were mentoring sessions, team case studies and presentations delivered by women in technology.
The afternoon started with a speed mentoring session and there was a lot of interaction and learning between the students and JKUAT WICT. Sheila Achieng, a JKUAT graduate and YALI Fellow spoke on the need for us to join together to #PressForProgress. Tobias Belle, from JKUAT, spoke of the importance of gender equality and the impact that diverse teams have on improving creativity, problem-solving towards of various world’s issues.
Dorothy Kahenya and Phylis Ngigi, from JKUAT WICT, co-presented on the topic, “Women’s Empowerment through Technology and Career Choices” It was remarkable to see the girls interest in STEM education and careers heighten. I gave some background on my story, why I pursued engineering and challenged the girls with a call to action encouraging them to #PressforProgress and seize for opportunities despite gender and societal stereotypes.
YTF delivered two workshops; Social Media and Monetization; Creating blogs & Vlogs and Open Source Technologies. Each workshop had 20 girls participating. Edward Muturi and Shalon Njeri, YTF Master Trainers facilitated the Social Media Workshop during which students were introduced to blogs, vlogs and various platforms that can help them express their ideas and tap into entrepreneurial opportunities. Princess Umutesi, a student, was very fascinated with the social media workshop and she remarked “one day, you will read my blog. It will be very interesting.” Denis Mwasela, Stacy Irara, Kelvin Mwaniki and Mercy Jillo, YTF Master Trainers, demonstrated open source technologies using the Arduino and showcased blinking an LED, displaying HELLO WORLD on an LCD screen and the principles of operation of Servo Motors. Demonstrations were linked to real life applications to give students a better idea of how these technologies can be applied to their daily life. An example was the sonic radar detector which operated using the principle of servo motor and ultrasonic sensor.
After the workshops, we listened in as Sibyl Khavere, a civil engineering student at Moi University, presented a paper on “Girls and Women in Leadership.” Students worked on case studies about inspiring women role models like Dr. Mae Jemison and Malala Yousafzai. “Women should stand strong and united, for together great things will be achieved,” said Ephy Kemunto, a student from Huruma Girls.
The zeal & yearn for technology was so vivid as the students were very fascinated with what they learned and the technology sparked their creativity and interest. Esther Mweya, a form 3 student said “No woman is an island. We all need each other to achieve gender parity.” We can’t agree more.
By Mary Munyoki, Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF)