CITAD: breeding women webrepreneurs

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ICT is seen as an exclusive preserve of the masculine gender, as such a no-go area for women, however, the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) is changing that narrative, by equipping young women in northern Nigeria with topnotch ICTs skills towards attaining gender parity in the digital world

The fact that they are clearly left behind in the world of information and communication technologies, ICTs, has led to various globe-wide campaigns for gender-based digital inclusion by intergovernmental organizations like the United Nation’s International Telecommunications Union, ITU, as well as various other women’s rights NGOs all aimed bridging the digital gap by providing women with access to ICTs skills.

“We are advocating for digital inclusion and want to take the challenge of mentoring women to be inventors of technology – not only users of technology,” said Abdulganiyu Rufai, the lead mentor and programmes officer at CITAD, at an ICTs entrepreneurship workshop organized by the CSO for young women in Kano, in commemoration of the 2016 UN women’s day.

“Our plan is to breed women developers, programmers and engineers so as to create a pool of women entrepreneurs that will use IT to develop mobile applications that are enterprising in nature. We have been teaching women how to use ICTs; we are now upgrading by teaching them how to develop technologies themselves. It is a mentoring program that will continue.”

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No doubt, information and communication technologies platforms like the social media and the Global System for Mobile communication, GSMs, have helped empowered women, in both political and economic terms, and therefore given voices to millions of hitherto voiceless women, globally.

According to GSMA’s 2014 digital inclusion report, mobile phones have become the most popular and widespread form of personal technology on the planet, with 3.6 billion unique mobile subscribers and 7.2 billion connections globally. And leveraging ICTs, have helped transformed the lives of women in various aspects of their life including access to healthcare, education and financial services.

The female mentees at the training were taken through the process of development of android-phone compatible mobile applications including fashionista, an app that helps women access, buy and sell the latest innovation in fashion design. They also learnt how to develop a mobile app for food recipes via which women can, from the comfort of their kitchen, and using their mobile phones, search for countless recipes for the preparation of various delicacies of foods.

“We took them through mentoring process on mobile app development using simple compilers. We developed fashionista, a mobile app for fashion design and another for food recipes. We did this deliberately because we know the 2 apps will appeal to women; it is a sort of teaser. We introduced them to android application and its architecture and how to monetize the application,” Rufai told African Newspage.

He described the ICTs market, which is currently male-dominated, as one full of opportunities for women adding that since women were good with things like colours, there were so many things that were peculiar to them in the market and so ought to be dominated by them – and not men.

“We are teaching women what IT is all about, to change their perspectives about IT as a male business; I will like to call on women to go into IT, because they can achieve something,” said Omoefe Cynthia, a mentor and women technical lead at Women Google Developers Group, Bayero University, Kano.

“Today was great, everything went well, we learnt how to develop the fashionista app and the app for food recipes; the opportunities for women in IT are just enormous. In fact, even basic computer literacy can give you an edge over other competitors when it comes to employment. Being IT-complaint makes you good to go for almost everything,” adds Cynthia who is an undergraduate student at the department of computer science and information technology at BUK.

Ms Hauwa Attah, an assistant training officer for CITAD urged women to believe in themselves and not to see IT as a masculine profession adding that if women could do away with stereotypes, the sky would be their limit in information and communication technologies, ICTs.

Also speaking to African Newspage, another techy, Raliat Haruna, also a level 300 student of computer science at BUK said she learnt a lot in the area of app development and entrepreneurship adding that women don’t feel encouraged to go into ICTs because they think as ladies, ICTs is a no-go area for them.

“I want to encourage ladies to go into IT; I am a lady but already involved in IT and will continue to remain in IT. This is because they will learn a lot, and they can do a lot. You can empower yourself and also others; there are a lot of entrepreneurial opportunities,” said Raliat Haruna.

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