“It’s clear to us that Kenya is a country still in its infancy in growing its gender equality levels”

SHOFCO founder Kennedy Odede with students at the Code Club in Kibera


By Benjamin Mirichii and Polsa Tsuma, A World at School Global Youth Ambassadors in Kenya

The laughs and screams of playing children ricochet across the narrow alleys of Kibera as you snake your way into Gatwekera Village.

Towering over the surrounding dwellings, the main building and its water storage tank are a sight to behold as you approach the school’s entrance.

The bright faces and voices of jubilant schoolchildren welcome you into the well-maintained compound – it beams with expectation and radiates a sense of hope, as though in defiance of the poor living conditions within the slum.

Managed by Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), founded by  Kennedy Odede and his wife Jessica Posner in 2009, Kibera School for Girls has grown to become a centre that hosts a free medical clinic, a clean-water tower, public toilets, an internet cafe, as well as economic and community-empowering services.

As part of the celebrations for International Women’s Day 2016, Theirworld launched Code Clubs in Kenya, Uganda and Senegal, offering an opportunity for girls to be empowered through access to technology.

On March 4, the first Kenya Code Club was officially launched at Kibera School for Girls and we were delighted to be able to attend in our role as Global Youth Ambassadors for A World at School.

The event was graced by Mr Odede and hosted by Theirworld (in partnership with Kano, Codeacademy and Africa Gathering). Seventeen Grade 5 girls will be part of the pilot programme, which will run once a week for three months.

Coding lessons covering literacy, art, games and music will be carried out by a trained teacher alongside mentorship for the girls that SHOFCO has already established with women in these professions.

Code Clubs are low-cost, sustainable and scaleable safe spaces where girls can build, learn and create through technology, creativity and coding. This programme is set to be rolled out to other countries in Africa, with improvements made from the experience in these three countries.

Gender bias and general discrimination against women is so embedded within society to the extent that individuals think that discrimination of women in the society and the workplace is “normal”.

Engendering the policy environment in sectors such as education would shift this kind of thinking – but we also need to encourage and create an environment where girls can learn and make informed choices about their careers.

Kano kits used during the lessons will allow the girls to assemble a computer (motherboard, memory, keyboard and speaker) which will then be connected to a screen. The kits are low-cost, easy to use and come with guided storybooks.

The girls at the centre felt that, besides learning something new, it was a fun, interactive session they could enjoy with each other and their teachers.

Mary Adhiambo, one of the Code Club members, said that she might now consider a career as a technology expert! At the moment, Science Technology and Engineering (STEM) is an industry in which women are underrepresented all over the world.

It’s clear to us that Kenya is a country still in its infancy in growing its gender equality levels. The Code Club projects and #RewritingTheCode campaign are an opportunity to see more than 600 girls, aged five to 24, not just in Kenya but all over Africa, be part of their country’s economic development.

How you can support the #RewritingTheCode campaign

Share a photo with a sign or a message on Twitter, Facebook and/ or Instagram with which, how and/ or why you are working on an embedded code. Use the hashtag #RewritingTheCode.

Follow Benjamin on Twitter.

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