Meeting young girls who are aspiring software developers in Nigeria creates special excitement because globally Technology-based profession or career is mostly dominated by men. There are very few women who will readily take up professions in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and related endeavors but the interesting thing is that when they do take up such opportunity, they succeed and become relevant. In Africa and Nigeria for example where the number of women who are in Technology- focused professions are few ,education, awareness, training are required to improve the situation and make more women understand what they can do with technology in this age and time.
Some organizations like the International Telecommunications Union(ITU) has the mandate of supporting and encouraging more women to embrace technology profession and also use technology as an enabler for development and empowerment.
It becomes worthy of mention the activities of the organization called Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN), they are at the lead in helping more women in Nigeria use technology as a tool to emancipate themselves from poverty, hunger, unemployment ,improve their social status and bring them into international lime light.
WITIN led by Mrs Martha Alade, is a non-governmental organization working with the vision to have an economically empowered and technologically competent Nigerian women with increased participation in the civic, social, political and economic process critical to achieve a better society. This organization is really on a mission of using technology for socio-economic empowerment of the Nigerian woman especially the girl-child.
I remember in 2012, I attended WITIN annual forum with the theme: ICT and Child Development: Benefits and Challenges. The interesting and pragmatic discussions at that forum got me impressed and that was the first technology focused event in Nigeria that had a great number of women in participation to talk about tech. And then few weeks ago, I was also invited by the organization during the ITU girls in ICT Day celebration in Lagos, Nigeria and I saw these young girls who are code warriors.
The occasion which had in attendance eminent personalities from Government, Legislature, the US embassy, was also the National final of a Mobile Application Challenge called Technovation organized by WITIN. Young girls from several secondary schools across Nigeria developed applications that solve societal problems. The group- Princeton Girls in ICT won the challenge with their Traffic App and emerged top 10 finalists that represented Africa at the World Pitch Technovation challenge held in Silicon Valley. I was so impressed and I said to myself that with what I have seen these young girls develop and demonstrate, Nigeria still has a future with these girls through ICT.
Grassroots Women Empowerment through ICT (GWEIT) is one of the projects WITIN embarks on to socio –economically empower the Nigerian woman in the rural and underserved communities through the use of ICT. This is achieved through:
-Designing websites for these women who already have a business, this is to give their product and services online presence.
-Google listing of these websites to make their websites easily visible on the internet.
-Making the websites mobile compactable.
-Access to business forum with thousands of SMBs in Nigeria.
-Training women in social media marketing.
-Helping them to market their products online.
WITIN has also trained several young women in Nigeria between the ages of 18-30,these ladies are groomed on entrepreneurship, trained in the use of ICT tools like Webinars, podcasts, Mobile app development, website development ,graphic designing, and then tutored on promoting their potentials online through social media.
WITIN embarks on sensitization in remote schools in Nigeria where the students especially the girls are encouraged and guided through choosing careers in STEM related professions.
They also run campaigns to sensitize the parents and the public on the need to protect children online. No wonder their 2012 tech4D forum focused on the child online protection in Nigeria. And am sure as Nigeria has become a major advocate in Child Online Protection more awareness will be created on this vital aspect of child development in this connected world we live in right now.
WITIN has also taken up innovative projects like the Green ICT project where e-wastes (a great menace in Nigeria) are recycled.
With all of these and many more projects which Mrs. Alade led group are determined to do for women and girls in Nigeria, government, international agencies fostering ICT4D, private sectors and philanthropic organization should support the laudable activities of Women in Technology in Nigeria.