A LOCAL startup Girls Speak last Saturday scooped the Women Rising award at Shoko Festival Hub Unconference for their role in empowering girls with technology skills. Accompanying a floating trophy was a prize money of US$4 000.
Speaking to the start-up’s co-founder Anoziva Marindire said bagging this award evidence of how their work is transforming the lives of girls they work with.
“Above everything else besides having won this, I think it’s a great testament that the work we are doing actually has impact.
“To have been in a competition and then winning the prize shows we are actually doing something right and obviously there are places where we need to improve just like the judges highlighted during our presentation and our interactions,” she said.
With the girls they have worked with, the elated Marindire observed that learning digital skills is emancipating.
“When you go into the digital space, when you go into coding you can create things that you didn’t know you can create.
“It’s not just a fun experience but also a life altering experience to actually that I can have a website. I can use this skill that I have to improve my work and stuff like that. There are girls in community programs where they are taught entrepreneurship skills.”
She added that unlike the usual baking sewing skills girls learn, digital skills are an added advantage for them.
“So you find it’s a great addition because they were just taught how to saw, bake, but now they have the skill to go out and sell in a digitally empowered world which is a skill they didn’t have. Like for us, we start from basic computer literacy skills because some of the girls don’t have computer. I remember last week we were teaching girls Microsoft Word because they didn’t know,” said Marindire who went on to say, “The program is six months long so by the time they finish, they are able to make a website from scratch. So you can see the real impact and the excitement.”
The six-month long training program comes with additional advocacy skills lessons for girls to be voices of change in their communities. They have worked with about 182 girls in toto.
“In our mobile journalism class, we ‘ve dealt with 82 girls in five cities. We worked with another organisation going around the country. They invited us to come in and do that. In total putting the girls in our classes and the girls that we were able to impact within these cities, the total number is 82 but we also do mentorships where we bring women in tech to speak to these girls to study tech so that they don’t leave the profession.
“We are taking girls in colleges, universities, polytechnic and we bring them once every month to interact with prominent men within their space. In that element of the program we have trained a hundred,” said Marindire.