W.TEC Technology Camp Empowering Nigerian Girls
Nigerian nongovernmental organization Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC) is looking to groom the next generation of “ICTprenures” through their W.TEC Girls Technology Camp.

The W.TEC camp, able to accommodate 30 Nigerian girls ages 13 to 17, is competitive yet inclusive with scholarships available to public school students. Its objective: “helping girls develop an early interest in computers and other information technology,” an interest that W.TC believes will socially and financially empower Nigerian girls.

Over the course of two weeks, participants take technology workshops and engage in leadership activities. These workshops range from Basic Computer Appreciation, which covers Microsoft Office Suite and Internet use, to 3D Designing and Robotics Programming.

Supported by Union Bank of Nigeria, MainOne Cable, General Electric and Laureates College, the camp is designed not only to increase Nigerian girls’ technological capabilities but also to enhance creativity, communication abilities, problem-solving and leadership skills that will serve participants in whatever career field they pursue.

W.TEC Girls Technology Camp also covers career sessions. The 2015 lineup boasts Financial Literature, Youths and Space Technology and Software and Development Life Cycle courses in addition to field trips to innovative technology companies and conversation sessions with women working in ICT fields.

On the importance of their female empowerment focus, W.TEC stated that “statistical evidence has shown that in most African countries, women’s use and knowledge of ICTs (to store, share, organize and process information) is lower than men’s, denying them of income-generating opportunities and the chance to network with others.”

In addition to their W.TEC Girls Technology Camp, the organization conducts a variety of programs focused on technology-based projects, technology literacy training, mentoring and work placement for young Nigerian women and girls. W.TEC also hopes through research and publications to promote a dialogue about the way African women use technology and the hindrances to that use.

W.TEC seeks to empower Nigerian girls through financial independence stemming from ICT training for jobs such as computer engineers, system analysts, programmers, designers and hardware and network specialists. The organization also works to guide women through the development of technology skills that can improve their candidacy for ICT-reliant jobs or self-employment.

Dedicated to these goals, W.TEC pledges to support the use of ICT as a means to uplift women’s rights: “We also want women to develop skills and confidence to use ICTs for activism, learning, awareness-raising and advocacy for a better quality of life.”

Emma-Claire LaSaine

Sources: W.TEC, Biztech Africa
Photo: Biztech Africa

boko haram
Nigeria’s militant Islamic group, Boko Haram, has created havoc in Africa’s most populous country. The militia, whose name translates to “Western education is sin,” has kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in the village of Chibok and has threatened to sell them as child brides. Their primary objective is to create an Islamic state that would forbid Muslims to abide by or be influenced by Western culture. Thus, schools have served as a common battlefield. Additionally, battles have occurred in churches, police stations and all those opposed to the ideas of the militants. Without a proper education, these girls will continue to suffer the consequences of extreme poverty and related health risks.

Similarly in Afghanistan, the Taliban imposed strict restrictions on women during their rule from the late 1990s to 2001. They banned women from studying in schools, working outside the homes and took away most of their behavioral and personal freedom due to an extreme interpretation of the Koran. Women were pressured into adhering to their traditional roles, being forced to stay at home to take care of the children and the house. The Taliban also was opposed to Western influence, and it banned music, movies, cosmetics and brightly colored clothing, creating laws to punish those who did not wear the proper clothing, such as the burqa, for women.

In both situations, women’s rights have been and still are on the road to being taken away. Boko Haram has been accused of having communications with and training from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Islamic Maghreb. This is also true for the Taliban, who have had immense support and imported fighters from Al-Qaeda. Both groups want to see a change in government and have Shari’a law implemented in their respective countries.

In a divided country of Christians and Muslims, Nigeria has faced many problems, despite the abundance of oil and natural resources that exist in the country. The militia mainly blames the modern and secular government for bad governance and underdevelopment. In Afghanistan, the Taliban rose after the invasion of the Soviet Union to bring back stability into the country and instill rule of law in place of corruption. The strict restrictions on women were an effect of Shari’a law.

Without education for women, the countries’ development will be hindered and the population’s health will dramatically decrease. Afghanistan already has one of the lowest Human Development Indexes in the world and suffers from a complete lack of healthcare providers and facilities. Unfortunately, both Afghanistan and Nigeria face severe challenges and a future that does not seem as bright as it could be.

Leeda Jewayni

Sources: CNN, CFR 1, CFR 2
Photo: Flickr