Written by Lea Dettwiler, Programme Assistant Girls Can Code and Valentina Di Felice, Head of Impact and Learning.

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Girls Can Code at WSIS

Last April The Womanity Foundation attended the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum to present Girls Can Code. 2019 marked the 10th edition of the biggest International Telecommunication Union gathering centred around the theme of “ICT for development”. For Womanity, it provided a unique opportunity to exchange information, share knowledge and best practice, and understand global trends.

The conference covered a variety of topics including Gender Mainstreaming and Bridging Digital Divides amongst others. It was reassuring to find that many of the themes and learnings that came from the session discussions reflect the approach we’ve taken with Girls Can Code. For example, Sarah Clatterbuck from Youtube-Google[1] discussed why it’s crucial to have a diverse tech sector  – to ensure the tools developed are representative of all the users benefitting them. A balanced work force represents an economic opportunity for everyone, but it is also fundamental for companies to hire competent talent. Meanwhile Limor Shmerling from Israel Tech Policy Institute[2] discussed the importance of role models in nurturing talent and installing aspiration and determination in the new generation.

Getting more women in tech

Encouraging more women to enter the tech sector is extremely important for companies. It will enable them to tap into new and creative talents, better meet rapidly changing market demands and cater to new and diverse customers. Women acquiring new skills can challenge the traditional labour norms, by working part-time and/or from home.

We were pleased to receive feedback and confirmation on how Girls Can Code is making strides in the right direction to address these challenges. According to our internal surveys, most  high school girls in Kabul understand the importance of technology in their personal and professional lives, and our three-year training programme in English, computer literacy and coding  is offering the life-changing knowledge they need.

Opportunities for collaboration

During the conference we received a lot of interest and questions about the uniqueness of the GCC programme, specifically about how we are able to successfully operate in a challenging context like Afghanistan. This has opened us up to potential new opportunities for collaboration for example with ITU, AIESEC, ICT for girls in Pakistan, SOWCoders and others.

As is often the case with conferences like these, many conversations are continuing after the event, allowing us to exchange knowledge and collaborate to build effective models that can work in Afghanistan or in similar contexts.

Read more about Girls Can Code

[1]WSIS Forum 2019: High-Level Track Outcomes and Executive Brief (2019), WSIS Forum, p. 251, available on  https://www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2019/fr/Files/Outcomes/DRAFT-WSISForum2019HighLevelTracksOutcomes.pdf

[2] WSIS Forum 2019: High-Level Track Outcomes and Executive Brief (2019), WSIS Forum, p. 254, available on  https://www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2019/fr/Files/Outcomes/DRAFT-WSISForum2019HighLevelTracksOutcomes.pdf