Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) offer vast potential for women and girls; from ending poverty, to improving education and health, to agricultural productivity, and creating decent jobs”.

This quote from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women captures particularly well the role that technology can play in achieving the sustainable development goal (SDG) 5 of ending gender inequality.

And the problems are numerous. For instance, Senior Economist of the World Bank Kinnon Scott presented a report which shows that between the age of 20 and 34, women are more likely to be poorer than men. The result went further to state that children account for 44 percent of the global extreme poor and poverty rates are highest among children, particularly among girls. There are 105 girls for every 100 boys living in extreme poor households, across all ages.

The transformative power of new technologies

SDG 5 on gender equality and women empowerment clearly highlights these problems and clearly identify technology as a lever for reducing inequalities. Indeed, it includes a specific target on the importance of technology to achieve women’s and girls’ empowerment.

New technology brings new realities and the advent of digital technology allows the empowerment of those born into a place of fewer opportunities.

Technology has democratized how knowledge can be acquired and traded in the new market place. Just a decade ago a high school graduate in Africa was condemned to the lower rungs of a corporate ladder because they did not have the formal education to help them climb it.

Today, a 6-month training in front end design can jumpstart a fledgling career in computer programming and open up opportunities across international boundaries. This kind of opportunity has brought African youth to the same starting line as their peers around the world.

A close look at GirlsCoding

Digital technology based careers also have a lower barrier to entry. Thus it is a viable and less expensive approach to supporting young people who might have never been able to pursue more expensive (both in time and money) professional paths.

At GirlsCoding we have exploited and are still exploiting these opportunities with tangible evidence of success.

GirlsCoding is an intense program organized by Pearls Africa Foundation for young girls between the ages of 10 to 17 years, living in underserved communities in Nigeria. It is tailored to provide various technological skills through trainings in areas such as robotics and web development with a learning process in basic programming language such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Python.

So far over 400 girls have successfully been trained to become problem solvers in their communities and some of them are already implementing what they learned to propose solutions to issues they came across in Nigeria.

MAKOKO FRESH is an ecommerce website that connects buyers of seafood to the fishermen who live in Makoko (a floating community in Yaba), thereby eliminating the middlemen who makes more money than the fishermen; hence helping the fishermen sell more at a better price and make a good living for their families.

HOPE BASKET is a project aiming to give a new life to unused materials to those in need, especially for the internally displaced persons from the areas troubled by insurgents, floods and natural disasters who are forced to live in camps in Nigeria.

These initiatives demonstrate powerfully that technology has a real transformative power. It is up to us to collectively give these promising young entrepreneurs access to appropriate training, to enable them to find solutions to contemporary problems.