HP funds Utiva to train teenage girls in Kenya
Historically, the positioning of technology and expertise has been an antithesis to women and girls and this is even worse felt in low and middle income communities.
Low and middle income countries face an existential crisis. As the world moves to a digital economy, they face an obstacle: the lack of qualified manpower to fill critical information and communication technology (ICT) positions, a problem that is exacerbated by the low representation of women in these fields.
HP, partnering with Utiva wants to change this.
In a bold attempt at salvaging the situation, HP commits $50,000 through Utiva, a tech education startup, to train 100 teenage girls in software development and product design.
Despite strong demand for tech talents, there are not enough job seekers with the necessary technical skills, thereby threatening their ability to participate in what has proven to be a powerful driver of growth in the twenty-first century – the digital economy.
In spite of a number of well-intentioned interventions by governments, civil society organisations, development organisations, and others, women are still facing significant barriers to entry and advancement in the technology space.
With the right understanding of these challenges, HP, Utiva, and Girl Rising, a girl focused NGO, were able to work together, create programming and actionable insights that will facilitate the mobility of young girls into tech for better lives and greater gender parity.
Increasing women’s participation in tech is critical for three reasons.
Firstly, increasing opportunities for employment for women improves gender equality, a fundamental human right. Secondly, empowering women leads to benefits for children and communities. Finally, narrowing the gender gap in the tech space could contribute to addressing the mismatch between the supply and demand for jobs in emerging countries.
By the end of the 6 month project, HP, Utiva and Girl Rising would have helped to improve the learning outcomes for 95 girls and young adults in core technology skills like Programming and Product Design.
The project is geared primarily toward preadolescents between ages 10 and 14, at their most malleable development stage, giving them prescriptive and informational direction, providing high-achieving female role models who overcame initial difficulties, creating an environment that inspires curiosity in order to generate long-term interest in tech, build practical knowledge through capstone projects, while making spatial premium tech training available to all participants.
According to Eyitayo Ogunmola, CEO of Utiva ‘’At Utiva, we have been helping girls become, stronger, smarter and more confident in themselves through improved tech teaching and learning and through programmes such as WOMIT we have granted lots of scholarships to women to learn tech’’. Utiva which is one of Africa’s top edtech startups was built to be the easiest and most efficient platform for people to transition into tech, positioning them to access more aspirational work opportunities in tech, last year alone Utiva trained over 10,000 people in tech.
The goal of this project is to help train young girls in future-proof tech skills, building their interest and confidence in tech as a means to solve complex and simple global problems, and for the older ones, helping them get the requisite skill training and practice to facilitate their transition into better-paying tech roles.
In low- and middle-income countries, like Nigeria and Kenya, there are fewer workers for the tech workforce, undermining one of the most important drivers of economic growth. Women could fill the gap, but they are currently underrepresented in the tech space, in particular in higher-paid, senior and management roles.
The academics at HP, Utiva, and Girl Rising believe that enabling women to gain skills in this field would help develop the digital economy and increase opportunities for women. With women becoming more involved in using technology, their contribution to designing and developing tech products and services will be crucial to ensuring the technology is relevant for female consumers.
Similarly, more international institutions, governments, and NGOs, as well as companies and foundations, should work together to find solutions to the complex barriers women and girls face, especially in low and middle-income countries where better inclusion of women in the tech workforce could help their economies and improve livelihood opportunities for people.