Afro Fem and Mastercard Foundation Inspire African Women to Code
On September 25th, 2021, Afro Fem Coders in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, launched a hackathon to support young women in gaining business skills amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Afro Fem Coders is a program that aims to create a platform for African women to learn computer programming in a safe and encouraging environment.
The Hackathon was the first event to help build the programming for class courses, which started on October 31st. It showcased the various programming elements to the participants to peek their interest in the different applications that they can use to create websites, systems, games, and more.
The Hackathon was attended by 135 women from across Africa. It lasted two hours and multiple participants were able to interact with Sheila and the other tutors who ran diverse mini sessions in breakout rooms.
Ms. Gloria Tumushabe, the Founder of Afro Fem Coders, said, “Given the low numbers of African women in technology, this is an opportunity to challenge the status quo. We can give women a chance, young and old, to equip themselves with skills that will put them on the path to financial freedom.”
During the first COVID-19 Uganda lockdown in March 2020, Tumushabe saw an opportunity to teach coding to young women who were forced to stay home due to the global pandemic. Tumushabe leveraged the power of her network, knowledge, and the internet to start teaching girls in Uganda and the rest of Africa how to code – a skill that enables you to create computer software, apps, and websites.
“The Hackathon is meant to explain our learning process in detail, give direction, and teach women about coding and programming and how they can use these skills to employ themselves. The students will also be given a chance to sign up for a future class to learn more intricate skills. More women are needed in the technology sector, and the opportunities are there for them to seize,” Tumushabe explained.
Afro Fem Coder’s vision is to increase the number of Sub-Saharan African female programmers by more than 2 million within the next decade, particularly ensuring that Uganda has over 100,000 female programmers – either starting their technology ventures or working in top tech positions. “We hope to see the percentage of women who get exposed to programming at a young age increase by 95%,” she added.
“We have onboarded experienced tutors that will teach the participants their desired area of interest. These range from website development to block-based programming. It is my wish that every woman out there can use this chance to join a cohort of other young women to not only learn something new but to also create valuable networks,” said Tumushabe, a software engineer and a former Masters of Computer Science student at the University of California, Berkeley.
According to UNESCO, women in the tech industry constitute only 28% of professionals worldwide and just 30% in Sub-Saharan Africa. “About 20% of software engineers in Silicon Valley are women while in Africa, only 2% are female software engineers.”
“I was able to identify this gap with the exposure I had in programming, and I knew I had to start teaching other women. These statistics show the huge gap between women and men in exploring careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, also known as STEM.”