First Lady Launches “Girls Can Code” Project

First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, on Wednesday; 17th January 2018,  launched the “Girls Can Code Project Ghana” at the Advance Information Technology Institute, Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in Accra.

The project will see to the training of some three hundred girls between the ages of 11-14 from ten junior high schools across the country and seeks to develop the interest of young girls in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The launch was done with immense support from DreamOval Foundation, the Cooperate Social Responsibility arm of DreamOval Ltd – one of the top software and technology companies in Ghana. As part of the foundation’s mission to create, utilize and share knowledge specifically in the field of ICT, it continuously churns out ICT skill training programmes and supports such initiatives.

Speaking at the launch, the First Lady urged young girls to take advantage of ICT, arguing that it can now be used to improve women’s economic outlook and address the gender gap.

“Indeed, the emerging digital economy, offers developing countries like Ghana an opportunity to take a quantum leap in development, by transforming the economy into a high- value-added, information and knowledge based economy. As more women understand the value of the Internet and ICT in terms of sustainable livelihoods, they will improve their quality of life and become more productive members of society. As women, we need to understand that, the Internet is a resource for empowerment, for restoration, for self-development and for arming oneself in the knowledge economy.”

“I am therefore happy to learn that this project seeks to train more girls. Ultimately, it will develop young girls to be critical thinkers and creators of technologies and inspire them to develop their full potential.”

On her part, the Chief Executive Officer for Soronko Academy, Regina Honu, said it was the impact and the change needed that allowed for the establishment of the first coding and human centered design school in the country.

According to her, although there is a wide market for coders and developers in the country, it is challenging when it comes to girls.

“There are a lot of women in this space, but they need more support. We also have to educate the decision makers that a single quota team is not efficient. What I mean is that, if you just have a group of men developing for different population, that can’t work. You can’t design a solution for deaf people when you don’t have a deaf person in your team to understand the perspective. So you can’t have a single team of men developing a solution which is consumed also by women, so it is important that they add that diversity. It goes a long way to add to the innovation.”

Speaking on issues on collaborations, networks and passion, Ghana’s permanent delegate at UNESCO, Ambassador Johanna Odonkor Svanikier, advised the young girls to consider venturing into the ICT field since it holds many opportunities for current generations.

She said although people thought the ICT field was a “no go area” for girls in the past, the time has come for women and for that matter, girls to take their rightful places in the industry. She said many women globally, including Ghanaians, have over the years demonstrated to the admiration of many their dexterity and expertise in ICT careers.

Ambassador Svanikier touching on the project said it aims among others, to equip young girls with skills to develop applications to solve day-to-day challenges, develop mobile applications with capacity to solve local challenges, and to develop entrepreneurial skills in the beneficiaries.

The launch was done in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Communication, and Gender and Social Protection. Support for the initiative and launch came from DreamOval Foundation, UNESCO-IFAP, GES, HACSA and the Ghana- India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT.

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