I learned about the program on in the evening when my mother told me about. Naturally I went up to my room, tapped away at my laptop with my headphones on, blaring the kind of music most adults scoff at (yes I’m a 14 year old teenager, get over it and keep reading), to find out what exactly it was about. The founder of the program, Marieme Jamme, is a Senegalese-born British businesswoman in technology. Ms. Jamme did not have access to formal education when she was growing up, yet she still managed to have a successful career. Through hardships and trials, she made it where she is. She motivated to make sure no girl is ever put that position again, hence the foundation of this program. It’s name? iamtheCODE. Currently, 65 Million girls are being denied access to basic education around the world. iamtheCODE seeks to enable 1 million women and girl coders by 2030, aligning with the UN 2030 agenda. The program wants to support young women in STEAMD (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, and Design), through learning how to code, creative learning and cracking problems. To finally reach their 2030 goal, could inspire the girls who aren’t in school to fight for their right to education and their families to finally send them to school. To realise that it’s important to educate their girls, for the future of their nation rest on their shoulders. But why coding you may ask? Code and coding is how we interact with computers. With technology. Technology is not just our future, it is our now. Our world is being increasingly more driven by technology, schools having lessons on ipads and computers, documents and contracts online, to algorithms on platforms like Youtube. Heck, most of my teachers can’t go through our lessons if the electricity or internet goes off. How do we expect our girls and women to take on this ever evolving world without the tools and resources to do so? That’s when iamtheCODE comes in. To give those precious tools and resources to girls in places that can’t afford those tools.
Yesterday I was at a the second day of a Hackathon taking place in Nairobi, Kenya. The Hackathon had girls ages 11 to 18 from schools in Kangemi, Kibera and Samburu. I watched as the girls were being taught how to do basic coding, build a computer using a kit and use their computers and technology to solve issues that align with the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals in teams. For some of these girls, it was their first time ever being in Nairobi. I watched girls interact with the internet on a learning level for the first time. You and I have our phones, computers and tablets, we take our things for granted. These girls, they can’t interact with these things on a daily basis. To be able to work with them, well it opens an entirely new range of possibilities for them that they probably weren’t aware of. It really does make us check our privilege when we really realize how different others circumstances are.
The computers the girls are given to build are Raspberry Pi computers and the girls used instruction manuals, along with the guidance of their mentors, to build these computers. Once built, they were connected to a device with a screen. The girls than began using the software to interact with all sorts of applications, using coding and the internet to start to solve the issues assigned to them. When the Hackathon was over, the girls would get take the computers to their respective schools and their mentors would continue to help them further their dreams through technology. When the girls had finished with their solutions, I helped the mentors with putting makeup on the girls before they presented their solutions before a panel of judges. It’s was heartwarming seeing the girls get excited over the makeup. It was to tell them that even while coding and being tech savvy, they can still be feminine. You don’t have to act like a man just to be part of a male dominated work field. One group did a play, the other made an alarm with a sensor for proper litter disposal, another two did powerpoints and prezis. They integrated technology into their solutions along with their creative ideas.
This program, iamtheCode, dear reader is very much worth your time. It’s a great movement that will aid us in educating this current generation and preparing them to take on the world. It gets girls excited about a whole range of careers they might have never thought possible. The amount of girls who aren’t being given access to the kind of education that a lot of us take for granted may only be a certain percentage of our current population, but they are most certainly 100% of our future. At this moment 65 million girls dream of going to school. Together, let’s make that dream a reality.
To learn more about this movement go to www.iamthecode.org and check out how you can help.
Someone’s daughter from Unilever