Intel today continued on its road of empowering women across the globe by introducing an e Learning platform to its Intel She Will Connect initiative. This is a program that they started back in 2013 as Cigdem Ertem, Intel’s Middle East, Turkey and Africa Regional Director said during the launch this morning. Why? She said “After conducting a study on women and the web together with our partners, we found out that the gap between women in Africa who access Technology and Internet from men is at 43%. This inspired us to start a program to close this gap. It is worldwide program that we started in Africa with the aim of reaching up to 5 million women, backed by our great partner network”
She went on to add that they reason the gap exists is because women and girls may not be able to buy and use technology. The most unfortunate reason that she stated however was the fact that women may be afraid to use technology, especially because they do not know how to use it. Which I have to say is unfortunate. Many women are brought up being told that technology is for men, you do not have to learn how to use it. That is why that gap exists.
“We need to help them learn in order to enhance their lives.” Since 2013, they have been able to reach 800,000 women and girls from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa using what I would call face-to-face contact. The reach that they hope to achieve now that the platform is online is sure to be immense. 5 million women doesn’t seem out of reach anymore.
Structured into 3 quests
So what is this platform? My Digital Journey is a web-based application with gaming mechanics where women are encouraged to learn individually or in a facilitated environment, and with the support of a peer network. It uses scenarios that are relevant to women in the form of challenges and practice solutions in order to move on to the next level. The application is divided into 3 quests. Each quest comprises of 3-6 missions.
The first quest is focused on the individual. Learners will understand what hopes other users had when embarking on their digital empowerment journey, how different digital technologies can be used to achieve their goals as well as understanding their own digital footprint. The second quest, sharing in communities is all about sharing with others online. Learners get to explore digital communities, starting with the community on My Digital Journey. The last quest dubbed ‘your digital life’ allows learners to make use of the skills they have acquired so far to unlock possibilities in their lives. Intel’s Africa Program Manager Suraj Shah, described this quest as the stage where the learners are encouraged to pick a focus and create an action plan towards achieving it.
All in all, it is a beautifully designed program that offers a conducive learning environment allowing a learner to track their progress and achieve more than stipulated. Intel have designed the program beautifully and in a way that they say African women and girls can relate to and understand.
This program has been running for a while now, so does it actually work? Intel’s Vice President, Director of Corporate Affairs and President of Intel Foundation Ms Rosalind Hudnell set out to prove that it has. “It isn’t about the program. It is about the young girls and women who get engaged with technology and realise that it isn’t as hard as the thought, that they belong there, that it isn’t something for other people” and she showed us what she meant.
Believing in the power of technology
..Women who will liberate their ideas
And create with hands already accustomed to bringing something new into the world
Who will learn to play freestyle across the globe
How to make a jump rope of the Equator
And skip their ideas across the continent..
-Titilope Sonuga, Intel She Will Connect Ambassador Nigeria
She introduced us to Jessica Orji, a girl from Nigeria who admitted with her own words that “In Nigeria, I thought the Internet was a man’s world” Through Intel’s She Will Connect Program, Jessica learned how to use the Internet and leverage that technology to start her own business back in Nigeria. That’s the power of educating women and opening up the world for them. However, this wasn’t the only example.
Bringing it back home, Ms Hundell introduced us to an extraordinary young lady, Carol Wambui who is still in high school but her story managed to literally tug on people’s heart strings. Triggered by the death of her dear uncle who needed a new kidney but did not get donors, she went on a mission to create an application that will connect organ donors to people and hospitals that need them so that people never have to die because they can’t get an organ. She did all this with the help of Intel She will Connect program teaching and helping her develop software using Intel XDK development tools. I mean is there anything a woman can’t do once they are given equal opportunities.
The room was filled with such stories. Danny Nafula, a very charismatic young lady from Kibera who played football and is an avid Chelsea fan (I don’t know why) had simple yet odd dream of being an accountant. She romanticized the idea of an accountant. Typing furiously behind a screen, printing receipts, counting money is a process that she saw magic in. She played this process over and over in her mind despite the fact that she had never held a computer before. With Intel’s help, she achieved that and now that she has mastered the art of accounting, her eyes are set for greater things.
You cannot dispute the importance of digital education, especially for those who the opportunity has been denied for many years. Intel has taken the challenge head on and continues to innovate around this space, desperately working to close the gap and create a better and more cohesive digital future.
You can find out more about the Intel She Will Connect and hopefully empower those women and girls around you to explore their curiosity through technology.