Microsoft, in partnership with Tech4Dev, has launched the Women Techsters programme to teach five million African girls and women science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills.

The programme, which is aimed at girls and women between the ages of 16 and 40 across Africa, was launched during a virtual roundtable in light of the 2021 International Women’s Day (IWD).

It aims to bridge the digital and technology divide and ensure equal access to opportunities across the continent.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently cautioned in a report that Africa’s inequality could worsen unless concrete action is taken to bridge the continent’s digital divide.

Also, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) research report, it will take 100 years before there is parity between men and women working in senior STEM roles in Africa.

The Women Techsters programme, according to Microsoft, will be a year-long coding exercise that will make use of standardised learning curricula across five learning tracks.

It is also understood that the training will be for three months, supported by a six-month internship and enrolment into a mentorship programme.

‘When we empower girls and women in the ICT industry through greater access to skills and training, we not only unlock innovation but also economic opportunities’, Microsoft Regional Director, Ghada Khalifa, said.

Microsoft Country Manager for Kenya, Kendi Nderitu, said that while much has been done in Africa to streamline upskilling in STEM areas, more and continuous efforts are required.

‘The overall objective of Women Techsters is to grow and support a community of tech empowered girls and women across the continent, who will have equal access to decent job opportunities as well as build and scale their ideas into tech-enabled businesses and deep tech startups, ultimately aiding overall economic growth’, she said.

For his part, Executive Director at Tech4Dev, Diwura Oladepo, said that the initiative aims to achieve gender equality and decent work and economic growth for women and girls.

‘Initially, we are launching the initiative in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt and are excited to see how we can live up to our mission of enabling participating girls and women to do more’, Nairobi Times quoted Kendi as saying.

The training programme will focus on technical skills such as software development, product design, product management, data science and AI engineering, and cybersecurity, and will be delivered through a series of simultaneous activities.

Source: ITWeb News Publication

Photo source: WOCinTech Chat

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