SOWCoders Bootcamp, 8th – 23th February 2020

At Womanity we strongly believe that technology catalyzes connections, helps overcome physical and geographical boundaries and has the power to bridge realities which are very different from each other.

Our program Girls Can Code (GCC) works with four schools in Afghanistan to provide 16 to 19-year-old girls with coding skills, English language skills and basic computer literacy. In doing so it supports and inspires girls to enter a career in the tech sector while challenging traditional perceptions of women’s roles in society. 

As part of our drive to get more girls into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers, Womanity Afghanistan partnered with The Society Of Women Coders (SOWCoders), to organize a virtual bootcamp for its GCC alumnae. 

The partnership with NY based SOWCoders was a huge opportunity for our GCC students. Led by women working in technology whose mission is to encourage young girls from developing nations to opt for careers in STEM, the non-profit organization specializes in conducting free coding, entrepreneurship & information camps for girls in their home ground as well as virtually.

For our students, the bootcamp meant accessing a unique opportunity to deepen their knowledge in CSS and HTML and be trained in English language by a trainer based in NY having a completely different style of teaching. For three weeks, three times a week, the distance between NY and Kabul vanished and enabled Sabrena Sabet, lead trainer of SOWCoders, in collaboration with Liza Popalzai, Womanity Technical coordinator and Hella, Womanity trainer, to tutor the GCC alumnae as if they were all sitting in the same room.

A window to the outside world had been opened for our Afghan girls.

“It was my first experience attending an online coding bootcamp. I learned new topics and had the possibility to follow advanced level lessons. It was very interesting working with graphics, discovering new problems and finding ways to solve them. I think we can help our people and find good solutions with technology. Anothergood point was the course being in English. This reinforced our language skills too. Further in my life, I want to work in more advanced and professional projects.”Said one of the 20 students attending the camp. 

The assignment given to the bootcamp students for their final group project was to create a website using the techniques learned in the past three weeks. While reviewing the final works the team got very surprised seeing how well the students retained and understood what they had studied for only a couple of weeks. “I was very impressed by the girls’ websites, especially the impactful solutions they created”, said a trainer in SOWCoders.

Also the topics of the different projects were interesting, some focused on providing more information to Afghan women looking for a job, others on how to deal with mental health issues or on how to connect with a female doctor when going to the hospital is impossible, other projects highlighted the beauty of Afghan products or sites but shed a light on climate change concerns. 

“We are happy to have established this partnership during the WSIS conference organized by ITU in Geneva in April 2019. We hope to continue such excellent relationship to offer new opportunities to girls in Afghanistan”, said the Womanity’s Program Director in Afghanistan. “I believe activities like the bootcamp we just organized encourage Afghan girls to embrace the perspective that it is possible to reach out to unconventional learning tools, contacting people from around the world and join a community with people having their same interests and values”. 

by Lea Dettwiler & Valentina Di Felice