In a momentous occasion, the Ministry of Education and UN Women joined hands to launch the African Girls Can Code Initiative (AGCCI) in Rwanda, an initiative funded by Siemens.
In line with the country’s commitments at the Generation Equality Forum on advancing Technology and Innovation, the initiative aims to equip young girls with coding skills, spark their interest in ICT and set them on a path to pursue careers in the field.
The Ministry of Education selected fifty girls between the ages of 17-25 to participate in the initiative, based on their high performance in science, technology, education and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Minister for Education, Hon. Valentine Uwamariya, said that achieving gender equality in education remains a top priority for Rwanda.
“One of the biggest commitments of the Ministry of Education is to bridge the gender gap STEM subjects, to reach 50/50 by 2026,” she added.
The underrepresentation of women in science and technology fields is a global concern, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, women make up only 30% of the STEM workforce.
Minister Uwamariya acknowledged that although there has been strong progress, several challenges related to gender inequality persist in education sector, including the low representation of girls in STEM education at the secondary school level, which currently stands at 47.7%.
Speaking at the launch, UN Women Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr. Maxime Houinato thanked the Government of Rwanda for its strong leadership on gender equality in the science and technology sector, not just in the country but at the regional level, and further encouraged the girls to use the skills they acquire through AGCCI to tackle societal problems.
“By involving women and girls in ICT and coding, we unlock their power to create user-friendly technology that addresses the specific needs of women and girls,” said Dr. Houinato, emphasizing that bridging the gender digital divide is not just an imperative for gender equality, but also an essential accelerator for achieving sustainable development goals.
During the launch event, each of the 50 AGCCI participants received a laptop to support their learning journey as they gear up for an intensive two-week coding camp to take place during school holidays later this year. The coding camp will expose the girls to various subject areas to strengthen their digital literacy and work readiness, including design thinking, programming, robotics, animation, and gaming, among others.
AGCCI, launched in 2018 by UN Women and the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and other partners, is dedicated to empowering girls across the African continent by equipping them with digital literacy and computer skills.