Theirworld launches Code Clubs and #RewritingTheCode at Facebook event

Speakers and panellists at the Facebook event Pictures: Getty Images for Theirworld


Every girl around the world should have the same opportunity as every boy to go to school, to learn and to fulfil their potential.

That was the message that rang out loud and clear at the annual Facebook breakfast event in London to mark International Women’s Day.

This year’s theme was #RewritingTheCode and the event was co-hosted by the campaigning charity Theirworld and National Geographic.

It featured the launch of Theirworld’s innovative Code Clubs for girls in Kenya, Uganda and Senegal.

The charity’s President Sarah Brown said: “All girls should have the same opportunity to go to school, learn and grow, and have a future they choose.

“#RewritingTheCode and changing the embedded values that limit the futures of girls is at the heart of International Women’s Day.”

Theirworld launched the#RewritingTheCode campaign, ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, to raise awareness about the prejudice girls face globally.

Facebook announced it was supporting the first Code Club in Kibera, Kenya. Lady Nicola Mendelsohn (pictured above), Vice President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Facebook, said bias had to be eliminated and girls and women given equal opporurtunities.

English writer and comedian Sara Pascoe (above) treated the audience to some great quips on the theme of gender. On a more serious note, she added: “It’s so hard to believe in ourselves. If we believe in each other, imagine what is possible.”

Lyndsey Scott (above) – American actress, model and app developer – spoke about being a minority woman in the world of coding.

She said women had to prove they were “the best” just to be accepted as “good enough” – a situation that has to change.

Lyndsey added: “That’s why I’m so excited about Theirworld’s work to set up girls’ Code Clubs across Africa.

“And I’m hopeful that by #RewritingTheCode the statement ‘girls can be leaders’ will soon be a given.”

That was followed by a panel discussion hosted by Cesi De Quesada Covey and including writer and TV presenter Jameela Jamil (below).

The other panellists were Nyasha Duri (Global Youth Ambassador for A World at School), Gemma Silvers (Facebook engineering manager), Tamara Rojo (artistic director of English National Ballet), Deborah Armstrong (Executive Vice President of Fox International Channels Europe) and Marieme Jamme (Co-Founder of Africa Gathering).

In an event packed with remarkable people, the best job title went to the next guest. Ella Al-Shamahi is a paleoanthropologist and archaeologist who specialises in the study of Neanderthals. Oh, and she’s also a stand-up comic who uses jokes to communicate her love of science.

Laura Mvula (above) performed a song about how making mistakes are part of the fabric of life.

Nicola Mendelsohn returned to the stage to say it was vital that environments are created in which girls are safe to study and learn.

She challenged everyone in the audience with this final thought: “What are each of you going to do to rewrite the code?”

After the event a Code Club workshop was held, where guests were able to try out the same Kano computer kits which are being used by children at the Kibera School for Girls in Kenya.

Also at the breakfast was Niamh Deehan (below), who realised that using the symbol would be a great way of challenging the attitudes that prevent girls from learning about technology.

Facebook #RewritingTheCode event with Niam Deehan

Today she saw her inspiring idea turn into reality with the launch of the #RewritingTheCode campaign. Find out what she had to say.

Theirworld Code Clubs and #RewritingTheCode are supported by Facebook, the People’s Postcode Lottery and other partners. You can learn more about #RewritingTheCode here. And discover more about Code Clubs for girls here.