Zambia, 2013, May 04
Event: Asikana Network Girls in ICT Day 2013
Date: 4 May 2013
Venue: World Bank ICT Centre
Time: 10.30 – 14.30 hours
Asikana Network is youth led Zambian organisation that seeks to empower women in girls through the use of ICTs. We provide free hands on training for girls of any ages who are interested in learning and sharing knowledge. Asikana Network was formed through the support and mentorship of BongoHive, Lusaka's technology and innovation hub.
Girls In ICT Day
On April 8, 2011, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) announced the establishment of an international "Girls in ICT Day", which will be commemorated every year on the fourth Thursday in April.
The "Girls in ICT Day" is the direct result of the adoption of Resolution 70 by ITU's Plenipotentiary Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October 2010. The Resolution, "Gender mainstreaming in ITU and promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through information and communication technologies", resolved to incorporate a gender perspective in the implementation of all ITU programmes and plan.
To commemorate Girls in ICT Day 2013, Asikana Network hosted an event to celebrate women and girls in technical fields. The target audience was girls who are in high school, have completed high school, and those in college and in need of career guidance
Womens Rights App
Created as part of the Women's Right Initiative by Asikana Network, WRAPP serves to inform Zambians of women's rights, which legislation backs them up and steps to take if they have been violated. Their Women's Rights Brainstorm and Hackathon event was cohosted with BongoHive on March 23 – 24 2013. In preparation for the event, Zamrize, a training organization, provided mobile application development training to Asikana Network members on March 18 - 22. During the month of April, Asikana members researched, structured, and designed WRAPP using the initial framework developed at the Hackathon. .
WRAPP was launched at the Girls In ICT Day event.
In an attempt to make visible the wealth of women's talent, Asikana Network assigned 6 of their mentors, real Zambian women with successful careers in the technology sector, to speak to the younger generation.
The event kicked off at 10.30 with an introduction to BongoHive and Asikana Network and their work. All the attendees were briefly asked to introduce themselves and give their expectations of the day.
Olipa Mwenya, a Grade 9 pupil from Kamanga said "I am interested in knowing what other career paths are ok for women"
Mwenya Mutuna, a part time college student, said "I expect to leave with a better understanding of what opportunities are available in Zambia for a young woman in ICT".
Rachael Banda, a recent graduate and ICT consultant echoed the other young women's sentiments by saying "I want to know the most important lessons that the mentors have learnt over the last 10 years of being in the ICT sector"
At 11.00 hours, the first mentor, Clara Malupande, an ICT specialist at NCC, took the stage and gave a fun interactive talk, highlighting her favourite things about being a woman in technology. "I love being able to challenge social norms and do things that people least expect me to be capable of" Clara said.
Shortly after her, Nchimunya Mudenka, another ICT veteran shared her experiences as a female programmer and analyst. She emphasized that "Women should not be intimidated, but should always believe in themselves and their capabilities."
The audience was then given an opportunity to ask the mentors questions. "Can you cook?" was one of the least expected questions that triggered a lot of laughs. The question highlighted the perception that women in male dominated sectors are unable to perform what are deemed to be more "womanly" duties.
At 11.45, Mulemwa Moongwa, a confident and bubbly IT and Development consultant spoke about the role of women in development. "It is important that women realise that they too have a critical role to play in our country's development" She challenged the audience not to be complacent and casual in the endeavors, because "the opportunities you have now are a result of the effort put in by many over 100 years of the women's movement, live your life as a debt to them, and be an even better example for those who follow you."
The next mentor, Lydia Bwalya, ZICTA's Type Approval Technician, opened her talk by displaying an interestingly designed gadget, a flat metal, key shaped storage device. She proceeded to give an insightful explanation of the role of ZICTA in the ICT sector. Thereafter, she inspired the audience with her personal story "Never belittle yourself, make sure you are the best you can be, work hard don't let anyone say she can't because she's a girl"
The audience was given yet another opportunity to interact with the mentors. Each attendee also shared their own stories and experiences with the group, and explained what or who has motivated them the most in the past. The participants then mingled and networked over snacks at 12.40 hours.
At 13.15, the fabulous Tshiya Mpenge, who had rushed straight from the airport to be at the event, took the stage and blew the audience away with her humourous quips. She motivated the girls, "women were created with many strengths, never think in a straight line, be ready to take up any challenge."
25 minutes later, the final mentor, Christine Mulenga Simfukwe, proved that dynamite does indeed come in VERY small packages. She inspired the audience with a moving story of the risks that she had taken in over a decade in the ICT sector. She also shared her experience as a mother of four and the joys of balancing a demanding career and maintaining a healthy family life. She challenged the audience to think about the future "20 years from now, will someone be able to look at you and say I am where I am because of that person?"
Recent high school graduates Jacqueline Haankwenda and Choolwe Lubinda took a moment to share their experiences at Asikana Network. They both participated in the first sessions of Asikana Network Video Editing lessons held at BongoHive and facilitated by Tony Roberts, Co-Founder and Director of Web Gathering. The two girls recently completed teaching the third session of video editing classes.
After the audience picked all the speakers' brains, Asikana Network moved to the final segment of the event, the launch of the Women's Rights Application (WRAPP). It was well received and the audience gave feedback that has been used to improve user experience even further.
Asikana member Corazon Mumba, one of the developers of WRAPP shared her contribution to WRAPP and how she felt empowered by the entire process. "On the second day of mobile development training I sent decided to quit, but Chisenga encouraged me to keep at it and I'm so glad I did!"
Joy Buolamwini, the Executive Director of Zamrize, gave a few words about the mobile application development training classes held at BongoHive in preparation for the development of the app. "I was very impressed with the progress of the Asikana members who attended the training. They went from black screens to creating their own mobile applications in only a week!"
Preview WRAPP online: bongohive.co.zm/asikananetwork/wrapp.html
Download for Android: bongohive.co.zm/asikananetwork/downloadwrapp.html
Asikana Network gave a vote of thanks to all the participants and collaborators and closed the event at 14.30.
|Christine M Simfukwe|
Internal Auditor - RTSA
|Lydia Bwalya||Type Approval Technician - ZICTA|
|Clara Malupande||ICT Specialist - National Council for Construction|
|Tshiya Mpenge||IT Quality & Assurance – EGPAF (SmartCare)|
|Nchimunya Mudenka Ndhlovu||Programmer & Analyst|
IT & Development Consultant
Collaborating Organisations & Individuals
BongoHive – Refreshments and media support
World Bank and Africa Development Bank – Venue
Father Charles Chilufya – 14 young ladies from Kamanga
ZICTA – Speaker and advertising
More pictures of the event are available here