Despite the rapid growth of technology companies in South Africa, only 23% of those jobs are held by women, according to Women In Tech. As the country joins the world in commemorating International Girls in ICT Day on 22 April, the focus will be on the critical need for encouraging and empowering more women to join the ICT sector.
GirlCode, a non-profit organisation that’s been creating nationwide networks of coding clubs since 2014, is partnering with companies like leading fibre provider Vuma to address this challenge. The NPO aims to expose young women to the software industry, provide practical development experience and access to industry leaders, with plans to reach 10 million girls through its coding programmes in the next ten years.
“Working at a tech company opened my eyes to the shortage of women in the ICT space. I realised that I had to do something about that,” says Zandile Mkwanazi, CEO of GirlCode. “So, I decided to quit my job and focus my time and energy on creating an initiative to help bridge the gap that no one else was closing and create the next generation of female leaders in ICT.”
We initially started with an all-women hackathon, which exposed the limited opportunities for women in the ICT sector, especially for girls from underprivileged backgrounds, many of whom encounter a computer for the first time when they get to university. GirlCode has since introduced more programmes like the GirlCoder Club and an Online Coding Bootcamp to expose girls to the world of tech and coding.
“We’re excited to be working with GirlCode to empower even more young women and create a platform for them to explore the vast opportunities within the technology industry,” says Taylor Kwong, CSI Manager at Vuma. “The programme’s success is clear through the partnerships, volunteer drives and sponsorships that help GirlCode achieve its goal of reaching 10 million girls and achieving gender parity within the ICT sector.”
Although the 2021 annual GirlCode Hackathon has been postponed to March 2022 due to COVID-19, The organisation still plans to open it up to 10 African countries to reach even more young girls.
Visit girlcode.co.za to learn more about the organisation and how you can pledge your support.