Siemens, UN Women to empower young African girls in IT
Siemens, in partnership with UN Women Germany, will, next week, launch the African Girls Can Code Initiative to empower young African girls in IT, cybersecurity, and coding.
The cooperative project will train young women from Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. Within two years, as many as 625 young women will benefit from the partnership; all offerings are free of charge for the participants, says Siemens.
Launched in 2018, the African Girls Can Code Initiative – a UN Women backed project –is a four-year programme that aims to train young women between the ages of 17 and 25 to become computer programmers, developers and designers. Further, its ambition is to empower participants to begin university studies and find a career in the ICT sector.
With this year’s programme, German technology company Siemens will make €780,000 available in the form of hardware, IT training materials and technical assistance to enhance young girls’ access to jobs and employment opportunities.
By end of 2023, Siemens will initially provide €500,000 for this cause and will, in the five countries, support two-week, full-time coding camps offering digital literacy, programming and personal development skills.
“Specifically, the coding camps will cover topics such as robotics, the Internet of Things, animation, 3D printing, gender equality and women’s empowerment, leadership, and communications,” says the company.
In addition, the company will provide laptops with a total value of over €280,000 to all participants.
UN Women Liaison Office to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)will coordinate the activities under the African Girls Can Code Initiative.
Concerted and systematic action
Further, Siemens will also be launching the SieMent EmpowHer mentorship programme, which will connect female mentors from around the world with the young women in Africa participating in the African Girls Can Code Initiative.
Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens in Southern and Eastern Africa, says: “The African continent offers enormous potential. I’m very pleased, that we’re teaming up with UN Women to undertake concerted and systematic action to create opportunities for development, in particular for young women, and to thus actively address the disadvantages they face.”
“It’s great that, together with Siemens, we’re breaking new ground when it comes to education for young women in Africa and that this technology company is doing pioneering work here, “says Elke Ferner, chair, UN Women Germany.
Ferner adds: “Collaborative projects like this one are essential for enabling young African women to develop future-oriented competencies in a protected environment. At both the national and international levels, taking a stand for women’s rights and for educational equality is a societal duty for all of us.”
Judith Wiese, chief people and sustainability officer, and member of the managing board, Siemens AG, says the company is making a difference by contributing the expertise Siemens has in the areas of IT, cybersecurity and tailored training materials as well as its ‘local know-how’ through its regional company in South Africa.
“By doing this, we want to give young women in Africa a chance to enter a future-oriented job market, while offering them a path to financial independence,” says Wiese.
IT and cybersecurity experts from Siemens will provide technical assistance to implementation of the project activities in the different countries.
In addition to the two-week training sessions, Siemens proposes to provide four- to six-month programmes for advanced training in low-code programming.
“I’m very proud to be able to support this initiative and drive its development – in particular, in light of my dual responsibilities for cybersecurity and diversity,” says Natalia Oropeza, chief cybersecurity officer and chief diversity, inclusion and equity officer, Siemens AG.
She says: “My responsibilities bring together many topics that are of enormous importance today: technology, IT, cybersecurity, education and diversity. Supporting young women in obtaining an adequate education and in advancing their personal development is a decisive factor for a sustainable future – and that’s not only the case in Africa, but also worldwide.”
Representing UN Women as special representative to AU and UNECA, Awa Ndiaye-Seck, comments: “As UN Women, we recognise that the African Girls Can Code initiative is catalytic, and not a panacea to bridge the gender gap in digitisation.
“If we have to scale up this, and similar initiatives, we urgently need to forge and nurture multi-sectoral and multi-level partnerships that aim to address not only the policy level bottlenecks related to access to technology and finances, but also the gender based harmful norms and practices that hinder women and girls from pursuing STEM fields.”
For Hanna Hennig, chief information officer, Siemens AG, enabling women to gain extensive access to technology is a matter of equal rights.
“We’ve already had very positive experiences with our coding camps in Germany and other countries. I’m very enthusiastic about the plans for joining forces with UN Women to enable young women in Africa to acquire such vital knowledge. This partnership has the potential to develop transformative impact,” says Henning.