Teaching young girls and women to code could be the key to achieving gender equality, according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Ahead of International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Monday, Guterres met with girls taking digital courses through the African Girls Initiative during the African Union Summit in Ethiopia last week.
“We need more girls to take technology courses. This is absolutely crucial,” Guterres warned.
“If girls and women are not more involved in technology professions, power relations will remain very male-dominated,” he added.
Girls enrolled in the African Girls Can Code Initiative are learning the skills they need to compete against men in the competitive workforce. Established in 2018, the initiative is set to touch the lives of 2,000 girls through 18 coding camps by 2022, teaching digital literacy, coding, and personal development skills to maintain financial stability.
“In this digital era, if girls and women are not strongly involved in technological professions, the power relations in the world will remain male dominated, and that is exactly what we do not want.”— UN Women (@UN_Women) February 9, 2019
— SG @antonioguterres meeting girls from our @unwomenafrica coding programme. pic.twitter.com/Of6LcDeP1w
Africa has the largest digital gender gap in the world but young girls and women are eager to learn science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) when given the opportunity. Within the first 10 days after the African Girls Can Code Initiative launched in August 2018, 80 girls from 34 African countries signed up to attend Coding Camp in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Studies show the quicker technology advances, the faster women will be left behind without the proper skills to succeed in the ever-changing workplace. Girls in low-income countries who lack the resources they need to receive quality education are especially vulnerable. Progress on a global scale will require a greater effort.
But with Feb. 11 as International Day of Women and Girls in Science to celebrate girls and women in STEM and call for actions to break the barriers that keep them from achieving success, we’re off to a good start.