In June 2021, on Girls in ICT Day, DOT announced the #GirlsInICT Street Team, a youth-led response to the gender digital divide. The third edition of the Street Team model, launched in 2020 as a COVID response initiative, welcomed 46 youth social innovators and entrepreneurs in Africa and the Middle East who are creating opportunities for young women and girls in technology.
The pandemic has reinforced the fundamental importance of digital technology as the world became digitally dependent, yet the divide for the marginalized is greater than ever. The Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Amina Mohammed implores that 3.7 billion people, the majority of them women, are still offline. She says “The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted this disparity. While confronting the pandemic, those without Internet access have been unable to benefit from remote education, remote work, or remote health services. Without decisive action, the digital divide will become the new face of inequality.”
DOT Understands Decisive Action
DOT’s street team model is a rapid response initiative to the COVID- 19 pandemic. The programme provides coordinated support to a network of youth in Africa and the Middle East.
We know that when we empower young minds – a multiplier effect occurs. As they empower and support their community members, they create webs of connected individuals leading change that extends beyond communities.
Youth are trusted pathways into their communities, they understand local needs and challenges, and they are innovative, digitally savvy, and energized to lead change. DOT’s network of youth are reaching the most vulnerable and underserved in their communities and are demonstrating the powerful impact of youth-led action.
On January 31st, 2022, the DOT community from across the globe, tuned in and celebrated with the 46 members of the #GirlsinICT Street team. The gathering celebrated their completion of the program, learning first-hand about their projects and welcoming them to the DOT Alumni Network – this is just the beginning of their journey with DOT.
Today, DOT is excited to showcase community-based initiatives led by 4 standout individuals in Africa and the Middle East who are creating opportunities for young women and girls in technology. These youths are working directly within their communities to bridge the gender digital divide, they understand the digital challenges that their community members face, and are providing safe spaces, digital literacy, channels to economic opportunities, and mentorship towards an inclusive digital economy in which no one is left behind.
DOT Launched the #GirlsinICT Street Team to support youth like Mercy, Mabel, Raad and Elkanag and other youth-led initiatives in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Lebanon and Jordan, who are leading digital inclusion initiatives in their communities. Through #DOTYouth Street Team, youth receive coaching, locally-relevant and unique learning opportunities, connections to partners and supporters, peer engagements and seed funding to support their initiatives. The #GirlsinICT Street Team is supported by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.
Here are 4 young social innovators bridging the Gender Digital Divide in Africa and the Middle East
Mercy Kiptui, Kenya
As an African entrepreneur in Kenya, Mercy Kiptui wants to make an impact on the gender digital divide through technology. Mercy is the founder of Nywele Nyumbani, a digital solution for women to experience personal care services from their own home through a mobile booking platform.
Using a digital platform Mercy has supported beauticians and stylists in her communities to advertise their work and promote themselves on Facebook and Instagram to clients, and empowered women in her community looking for personal care services. Clients can use the platform to book appointments through the mobile application, direct message or phone, and select from a list of verified stylists who are professionally trained, book appointments from the comfort of their home, and save time and money.
On their appointment day, the stylists will arrive at the client’s home. Nyewle Nyumbani provides all users with safety assurance, through the platform to track the client experience and the stylists. Mercy hopes to train stylists using online platforms and tools to expand their capabilities and contribute to breaking down barriers to work for stylists and beauty professionals in her community.
Mercy benefitted from 1-on-1 coaching with DOT Alumni and YouthLAB Coordinator Ann Nderitu.
Raad al smadi, Jordan
Raad is the founder of The Digital Fabrication Laboratory, the first social enterprise and incubator for technology-focused businesses and entrepreneurs in information technology and AI and 3D printing services of its kind in the Ajloun Governorate in Jordan.
Raad, through the Digital Fabrication Laboratory, provides innovators with the manufacturing tools, workspaces and advanced but easy-to-use devices and equipment, coupled with groups of experts and specialists ready to support them. The initiative seeks to develop an entrepreneurial environment to support aspiring entrepreneurs to contribute to the economy in the region, provide job opportunities, and incubate technology-focused businesses.
Raad’s initiative seeks to address the lack of tech and digital education in the Ajloun region. Raad is working to reach rural youth and girls with skills and knowledge in robotics and Artificial Intelligence. During his Street Team journey, Raad was coached by former DOT Street Team member, Mohammad Shehadat.
Mable Chileshe, Zambia
Mable is the founder of AmplifyHer in STEM, a Zambian non-profit initiative that seeks to empower young women and girls in tech through STEM Education and Mentorship.
AmplifyHer provides an experiential (hands on) STEM curriculum to high school aged girls, particularly in science and math and offers additional tutoring and support to girls completing their final exams, supporting their applications to colleges.
Mentorship plays a significant role in the AmplifyHer impact model, as the team facilitates connections between high school students and university students in the STEM field to build confidence, understanding as well as emotional intelligence and leadership. Mable’s initiative was born out of the need to reduce the number of female high school dropouts and increase math and science exam success.
AmplifyHer in STEM Mentorship Program operates in cohorts working closely with girls with a special interest in serving rural and disadvantaged communities to find success in high-school and post secondary education towards empowering and mentoring girls in STEM.
Elkanah Nyauma, Kenya
Elkanah is a consultant at DoubleServ, a Kenyan social enterprise with a vision to provide web-marketing services to help small businesses succeed online and leverage its expertise in digital skills to train young girls with digital literacy and relevant ICT skills.
DoubleServ provides clients a creative process to design and market a growth-driven web presence that attracts, engages and converts website visitors into customers. The capabilities in this area make DoubleServ a trusted teacher and channel to young girls.
In its community skilling efforts, DoubleServ focuses on supporting young women and girls to be included in the digital world through skills training. They focus on Girls ages 7-23 in Kibera, with a goal of making ICT accessible, fun and beneficial to the community.
Inspired by these daring innovators?
Read about how more #DOTYouth are transforming digital education, taking action for mental health, working in prisons and refugee camps, creating critical support networks in marginalized communities, and diving digital education during the pandemic.
Are you leading grassroots initiatives and creating opportunities for young women and girls in technology in Africa? Join #DOTYouth to be notified about opportunities! https://dotrust.org/get-involved/join-dotyouth/