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Pwani Teknowgalz: Equipping the Next Generation with Employable Coding Skills

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While at the Technical University of Mombasa, Aisha Abdulkadir and Ruth Kaveke were among the six girls in a class of 60 students taking Information Communication and Technology (ICT). Among the six girls, only Aisha and Ruth were interested in pursuing software. The two noticed that the huge gender gap was not only in their university but also in the neighbouring universities.

With a strong desire to change the narrative, they decided to make a difference. Ruth and Aisha launched Pwani Teknowgalz, a social enterprise that aims to bridge the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The foundation equips young girls and women with the IT skills needed to thrive in the growing digital economy.

How Pwani Teknowgalz empowers women and girls in ICT

Pwani Teknowgalz hosts web development classes for girls for a period of three months. It also organizes workshops and mentorship sessions for girls in college and university.

The programs aim to get young girls familiar with the basics of ICT and further develop their skills in software. Part of the program encourages the girls to use their new-found skills to develop sustainable and innovative projects.

The project contributes 10% of the web development fees towards teaching girls from an underprivileged background.

The duo also manages after school workshops in high schools’ computer labs to encourage more girls to get into ICT.

More than empowering girls in ICT, the founders have taken the initiative a notch higher. Pwani Teknowgalz involves the girls’ parents to ensure the participants are safe and receive the needed support from their families to pursue IT. Parents are usually invited when the girls showcase their web and mobile application innovations.

Throughout university, Ruth and Aisha were mentored by male lecturers. It’s only recently that they’ve got women mentors courtesy of TechWomen Kenya. Through the mentorship program, the two are exploring more opportunities and are, in turn, mentoring young girls at Pwani Teknowgalz.

Baby steps to big achievements

The Pwani Teknowgalz recently built a technology space in Mombasa, the first of its kind in the region. The fully equipped IT space provides girls and young women an opportunity to acquire IT skills in a safe environment.

The hard work of the two IT enthusiasts is bearing fruits. Pwani Teknowgalz mentees are creating incredible innovations to bring positive change to society.

In the recent CodeHack COVID-19 challenge winner, Wamuyu Gitonga, a 19-year-old, created Elimuhub, an application to help students learn virtually. The application gives students access to video lessons on different subjects such as geography, sciences and history.

In the future, the organization seeks to partner with different companies where participants can acquire hands-on experience in the digital economy.

Being the change, we want to see

Aisha comes from a conservative community where women are expected to stay at home even when they are educated. However, she went against the grain, defiling the old age tradition. She ventured into coding as a full-time career. Now, she’s pursuing her passion and inspiring a new generation of young women who are IT, enthusiast.

Ruth and Aisha are setting precedence in the men dominated field and taking a dozen other women alongside them. #ChooseToChallenge

Mourine Odongo
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