Rwandan women have a lot to be thankful for; as a developing nation it is not the norm to channel so many resources to foster the empowerment of the second half of the population in order to accelerate development.
And rightly so…the fact of the matter is, if we are striving to improve this country and advance, it is paramount that women get involved in technology because they nurture future generations (very cliché but it is a true story!)
Curiously, however, I am inclined to say that there is no real support network among women, ourselves, to egg on and promote a society where women are embroiled in technology; given the measly number of females in the field in the first place, it is pertinent that this becomes the case. So, what if the women involved in technology around the country decided to proactively take matters into their own hands?
What if these women create a forum/support network/association (whatever you want to call it) and made a time investment to come together regularly to participate in various activities.
There would be tonnes to get out of such a group; for example, an approach to expand members’ participation in the workforce by providing capacity-building training activities such as IT skills, professional development or even entrepreneurship could be tailored. The ability to network and support/connect with other women means partnerships are created to start and grow businesses as well as to run sustainable organisations; networks that allow the exchange of career resources and creates a round table to mobilize around issues of mutual interest.
I am getting carried away already but I can see participants using this forum to create professional development networks and organise events like job fairs, speakers’ series, English language clubs, or even programming clubs!
The picture should, in fact, get even bigger-one other what if the scenario is one whereby the forum of women technologists invest time to contribute to their local communities and act as agents for change as the role of mentors and role models is of grave importance to nurturing a new and much larger generation of female technologists (there’s no stopping that train!) Using their skills to volunteer in civil society building activities enriches both the technologist and the community; educating younger girls on domestic abuse, working with disabled people to come up with solutions such as wheelchair ramps. This could get even better, with support from the Ministry of say, Education or even Infrastructure, if a training programme could be accredited and supported, and therefore reach more communities…what are the million possibilities?
A means to create an innovative partnership model between local and international organisations, as well as the private sector is another gem in the crown. Fact of the matter is, I don’t have any answers but we should be thinking hard about this. Where do women take up arms to empower fellow women without waiting on a law to be passed? And where do the technologists in this group come in to use their skills in a unique way that pushes the whole group forward? Think about it…