Cameroon advances in effort to address gender gap in IT
About 3000 young female Africans between 12 and 25 years will begin camping in person in Yaounde (Cameroon) with a decentralised connection to the country’s ‘Silicon Mountain’ in Buea, and also via a virtual platform to develop coding and other cogitative skills for solving Africa’s contemporary problems, closing gender gaps and fighting poverty, from 28 June to 9 July 2021.
The initiative dubbed “The Connected African Girls Coding Camp,” is organised by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in partnership with the Government of Cameroon, UNWOMEN, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and UNESCO.
Held against a backdrop in which only 22.5% women in Africa have access to the internet as opposed to 33.8% of men, the camp is meant to promote African women’s access to ICTs, provide young females with the right foundation to find long-term success in employment, entrepreneurship or further education; and build meaningful partnerships.
Training modules for the camp include technical domains such as animation, coding for fashion through the Turtle Stich embroidery, gaming and web development, robotics/IOT and 3D printing.
It will also comprise general cognitive processes including project development, design thinking, computational thinking, the role of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM).
According to information supplied by organisers, the girls will also be guided to undertake a field trip to different innovation hubs in their respective countries and get mentored by various African role models and leaders in the STEAM field.
The Camp will culminate in an “Innovation Fair and Project Exhibition” activity in which various groups will showcase concrete projects developed and compete for prizes.
During a previous series of girls’ continental coding camps held in held in Addis Ababa and online between November and December 2020 and during ECA’s 53rd session in March of 2021, thousands of girls, constituted into group produced praiseworthy results.
For instance, a group of five young girls called Wonder Women developed an application called the ‘Maternal Death Surveillance and Response System,’ which can detect the heartbeats and blood pressures of a pregnant woman and the foetus she carries, and then notify a health practitioner assigned to the expectant mother, accordingly. It also has features for basic first aid and safe delivery.
Another group tagged Online Rehab Africa developed a “pioneer web-enabled addiction and Gender-Based violence therapy” system.
The first of its kind in Africa, this system is designed to play a vital role in supporting victims of gender-based violence through sessions with volunteer therapists. An immediate impact of the system would be to counter the impact of COVID-19 related lockdowns on girls and women.