This week the world marked International Women’s Day, celebrating women’s achievements, empowerment, inclusion, and equality.
Over the last decade, there has been tremendous progress towards gender equality, more girls are going to school, more women are serving in parliament and leadership positions and organizations are implementing policies to advance equality.
In Africa, the continent is celebrating the appointment of Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the first woman and African to head the World Trade Organization.
The growth of Africa’s technology sector and the mobile technology revolution has seen an increasing number of African women taking the lead in the space as start-up founders, innovators, coders, engineers, and executives in some of the world’s leading technology companies. A great example is right here, at home, in Kenya, where organizations such as Microsoft and Visa are headed by women.
However, despite these gains, many challenges remain and there is room for more. A few days ago, Nanjala Nyabola wrote a very interesting piece for VOGUE titled, In Nairobi, female coders are flipping the Silicon Valley trope on its head.
The article discusses how women are at the beating heart of Africa’s unlikeliest tech success stories and how society still routinely treats the work of women as secondary.
However, a group of Kenyan women is at the forefront working to increase the visibility and influence of women in tech by providing the mentorship and skills that young women need to succeed in the most competitive tech markets in the developing world.
I recently spoke to Radhika Bachu, CEO and co-founder of an early-stage tech startup in Kenya, Ndovu, a platform that provides easy access to financial markets, on the challenges she faced as a female entrepreneur.
Bhachu has experienced gender bias from investors,
where she has been asked when she plans to have kids, she has learned that there is limited funding available for women, and at times, despite leading meetings, some investors communicate directly to her male co-founder who was not contributing to the conversation.
We are at a changing point where we need to realize that no meaningful progress can be achieved without women. At the end of the COVID-19 crisis, we must do things differently by fully harnessing the power of women in tech to realize a more equal and inclusive future.