2014, November 08 | Port Harcourt, Nigeria
The challenge of getting women involved and actively participating in the sphere of Information and Communications Technology is also a reality in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. To contribute to the global initiative, FocusHub Nigeria organised an event tagged ‘Girls in ICT’ which was held on Saturday 8th November 2014 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The three hour event was set up with the simple objective to initiate discussion on the subject of women taking up active roles in the ICT field. In parallel, the plan included taking advantage of the large turnout to brainstorm on few societal challenges that affect women, to obtain a fresh viewpoint and possible solutions to them.
The audience consisted of female university students, primarily from the two universities in Port Harcourt. Also in attendance were students from universities outside the region, as well as some male students. Keynote speakers were Ese Emerhi, (Project Manager for NDLink, project of PIND-Chevron – a development NGO based in the Niger Delta), and Sharon Dinma-Fiberesima (techpreneur, writer, blogger and founder of Naijahousewives.com).
Both speakers talked about their baby steps into the world of ICT, as well as their experiences and challenges. They also had enough opportunities to answer the several questions that arose after their talks.
Ese spoke on her motivation to venture into a nearly all-male sector, and gave tips on ways to start. She gave statistics detailing the potential for growth in the ICT arena, and specifically for women. In her words, “… despite the challenges, it’s very fulfilling and rewarding” and “… take advantage of initiatives in the environment.”
Sharon told her story, detailing how ICT was a catalyst for success in her career as a writer. She stressed on the need for ‘solution thinking’ – how to apply ICT to solve challenges in the environment. She advocated for collaboration and leveraging on networks, taking advantage of people with requisite skills and resources.
With the audience all motivated, the girls broke up into syndicate groups to brainstorm and make presentations on ICT solutions to 4 theme areas viz:
- Maternal Health
- Peace and Conflict Resolution
- Public Accountability and Transparency
At the end of the main activities, there was free time to build networks and exchange contacts and information. The feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive, with enthusiastic requests for more of such events.
FocusHub Nigeria intends to keep the activity and discussions going, even outside of the event. The 4 theme areas, and the ideas generated will be further developed into real-life applications which will be deployed into the region.