Empowering girls and women through technology and making them financial empower through mobile internet

Achia Nila
Posted June 28, 2020 from Bangladesh
Women in Digital
Girls are working in the office for international clients
Girls are working in the office for international clients (1/9)

Women in Digital is an all-star team of female technologists dedicated to bringing more Bangladeshi women into the digital economy.

Women in Digital (WID) is dedicated to promote women and girls’ education and empowerment through technology. Established in 2013, WID aims to create digital platforms to support, promote and empower women and girls in areas of information and technology. Women in Digital is concerned about the existing digital and gender divide within the IT sector and thus is focused to unpack these challenges and offer practical solutions along with advocating for inclusive and empowering policy provisions. Since its establishment it has trained and empowered more than 7868 adolescent girls and women all over Bangladesh. Women in Digital is not only working towards the digital literacy of women and girls but also offering market relevant IT skills including online business development, offering digital marketing space to profile products, development of app, reaching to targeted online customers and raising individual profile with especial focus to women and girls. In addition, we are working towards digital-economic inclusion and the empowerment of women and girls. We are proud to share that ‘Women in Digital’ is the only women-led, women and girls’ focused organization within IT sector in Bangladesh. Thousands of women and girls that we have trained have not only started jobs, do online business but also significantly changed deep-rooted social and gender norms in Bangladesh. A combination of IT, financial inclusion, gender and empowerment aspects make us unique as we aspire to see women and girls’ leadership and economic independence in a more sustained way which will have an inter-generational impact. We also express our global solidarity on the same.

Our Mission

Women in Digital aims to support, develop, recognize and promote achievements of women in ICT. WID ‘s mission is to empower women in Digital Platform to achieve unimagined possibilities and transformations through technology, leadership and monetary prosperity. Successfully cultivate mutually beneficial networks between industry, academia and government with a focus on women working in the technology industries across the country and the world.

WID have focused on the following things,

Lumina Digital is a female-led agency, proudly operating out of Bangladesh. It was founded in 2013 by Achia Nila, an internationally recognized technology leader who also serves as an International IT Expert and the Country Director for Women who Code. Nila founded Lumina Dev alongside Women in Digital, a training center empowering women in Bangladesh with advanced technology skills. Many of the engineers at Lumina are the top-performing graduates from that program. 35 women engineers work together, They are developing IT products for the international Clients like, software, Mobile application, Games and graphic work. We mostly work for the Australia, Japan and USA market. 

We mostly provided service to the clients, beside that we have our own product line.

Our website for Digital Agency: www.luminadev.com 

  • Tech School: Empowering women with the training and job connections they need to cash in on the digital age. We have both physical institutes and an online school. The physical Tech schools are in different areas of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Ramgonj, Lakshmipur, Kurigram and Mymensingh which will run like permanent institutes. WiD have an online platform named mashtor.com

Mashtor.com is a global marketplace where learners and tutors connect. Through its intuitive and integrated online classroom, tutors are able to cultivate the internal motivation and potential of learners, and thus help them achieve their goals. It's a place where connection is made instantly, knowledge is shared and acquired in real-time, and community is created while breaking geographical boundaries.

Website: www.mashtor.com

  • Women in E-commerce: Empowering rural women with the e-commerce market place to promote their handmade product. So, Rural Women can earn immediately. Women In E-commerce with this we are completely focusing on rural women. Here we create an international market for their handicraft products through our social media and website. The entire teams from craftswomen, photographers to digital coders are women.
  • Women in CyberSecurity is the premier organization with a national reach dedicated to bringing together women in cybersecurity from academia, research and industry to share knowledge, experience, networking and mentoring. 

Partnership with British Council we have trained bangladeshi girls in cyberSecurity and at the same time in partnership with the ICT Division, we have run a cyber awareness campaign all over Bangladesh.

  • Competition for women to make them confident in the tech field: Women In Digital arranged different types of competition for inspiring women in product development and growing their confidence in technology. Every year we will arrange a “Digital Innovation Challenge for Women”. 

The sole purpose of the “Digital Innovation Challenge for Women 2016” is to create an interest in technology among the women in Bangladesh. We have arranged this type of competition for the first time in Bangladesh to encourage women to come into the tech world and motivate them for the future. A total of 248 women participated from all over Bangladesh, representing 49 different projects. The event  lasted one and half months – it started on January 28th, 2016 and finished on March 8th, 2016,  on International Women’s Day.

During the initial phase, 32 teams among the 49 teams had been pre-selected. The first presentation for these teams was held on 20th February. The teams were assigned with different local mentors for proper supervision in order to develop their ideas into a working prototype with a full proof business plan. The ideas included solving issues in fields like medical, security, traffic education, etc. Later, 21 teams have been shortlisted for the second phase and their presentation was held on  February 27th. Finally, 13 of the teams  continued into the finals and all of them had their presentation done on 5th March. On the final day of the event,  March 8th, the top three teams were awarded. But every participant facilitated the event.

Through this initiative, the organizers are hopeful to create a new bunch of female leaders and entrepreneurs with skills that are necessary for the girls to pitch their own business ideas in the future: create teams and also develop any solution from scratch which covers everything from planning to execution of the solution in terms of technological development, business development and marketing and sales. The organizers also hope to increase the morale and confidence among the participants to tackle any problems in the society through technological means.

Every year we have arranged it with different partners like Microsoft, EMK Center, and others for making some good women lead startUp. 

The 1st ever “National Hackathon for Women” in South Asia organized by Women In Digital in collaboration with Information and Communication Technology Division (ICTD). 1500 girls and women applied for this program, around 523 tech enthusiasts women across the country took part in the 36-hour non-stop event and tried to make progressive and unique inventions for giving technology-based solutions to nine selected problems.

  • Kid Education program: A learning mobile application for kids developed by all women engineers from lumina dev. It is a complete child-centered, interactive audio/visual learning package for free!

Children can also use their creativity and explore their imagination via drawing and coloring. They can play games and have fun. They can improve their mathematical problem-solving skills. It is also useful for all Bangla speakers and Non- speakers of all ages who want to learn and write Bangla letters, numbers and words.

Pathshala: Bangla and English Alphabet, Number, Colors, Game, Shapes, Bangladesh information, famous people of Bangladesh

Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=patshala.digital.women&hl=en

  •  A project for Mothers: The only social media app for sharing recipes of different types of cuisines, from all around the world.

FEATURES:

• Get step-by-step instructions how to make your preferred dish and to see the pictures of the dish you want to create.

• Watch the videos from cooks to get a better idea of how to make the dish.

• Search for your favorite cooks around the world, to get their delicious recipes to make an exact replica of their food art. You can also search recipes by name, ingredients, cuisine and origin.

• Like the recipes to save them for later. Follow your fellow cooks to get their new recipes on your feed. You can even comment on the cook’s page if you like.

• If you, yourself, are a good cook then don’t feel shy, and post your own recipes and pictures of your dish on the app.

• Vegan food? No problem, you can filter by what matters to you like vegan, gluten-free, low crab etc.

• On the app, everyone’s account will be public. Hence everyone can see everyone else's recipes of tasty food.

Link:https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.womenindigital.user.mo...

Get involved with social issues:

  1. Ensuring financial empowerment for Child Marriage victim through Technology: 

According to the UNICEF report, Bangladesh has the highest number of girls married off before 15. Over 700 million girls worldwide were victims of child marriage and one in every three of them were married off before 15. In Kurigram, 78% of girls under 18 were married. According to current statistics, Kurigram has been identified as the 3rd city in the world for child marriage.

According to the UNICEF report, Bangladesh has the highest number of girls married off before 15. Over 700 million girls worldwide were victims of child marriage and one in every three of them were married off before 15. In Kurigram, 78% of girls under 18 were married. According to current statistics, Kurigram has been identified as the 3rd city in the world for child marriage.

To address this challenge, in 2018 Women in Digital supported by CARE and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to examine how to support married adolescent girls in the Kurigram district of Rangpur division in Bangladesh. The project aimed to work with 200 girls of Punchgacchi and Belgachha unions under Kurigram Sadar Upazila in Kurigram district.

To reduce child marriage and to empower the girls’ Women in Digital conducted ICT training program. The project aims to build the capability of girls in IT skills and job placement: Basic Computing, Graphics Design, Web Developing, Digital Marketing and E-Commerce. Along with the courses, English and Soft Skill courses are mandatory for all the 200 girls.

In the 3-month training program, 200 girls are trained in 5 courses so that they can build their own self-reliance. In the training program we trained 200 girls in those 5 courses. 20 girls are trained in each course.

After successfully completing the training program some students feedback are-” After my marriage, I was in a fix that what should I do other than household chores to support my family financially. WID illuminated me with the lights of computer education. With the help of WID, Now I hope and dream to jump over any hurdles of life and become financially independent as well as solvent.”

-Archana Rani from Digital marketing course

”After the E-commerce training course I will not sit idly, now I can do something for my betterment”. -Konika Rani, Student of E-commerce Course

To make their training success, we have provided 200 laptops to all the girls who are undergoing training. This initiative has been taken so that they can apply this training in real life.

After the training, they change their lifestyle. Some of the girls are now, doing a great job. Some of them have become a trainer, some of them become a graphics designer. Some are freelancers and some run their own business.

 2. Empowering transgender through technology:

Trained 120 transgender to the mobile money transfer technology now they are running their own small business and they own money transferring shop.

3. Empowering sex worker  through technology

Trained 100 sex worker to the mobile servicing technology now they are running their own small business and they own a mobile service center.

Women in Digital Helps Women through Career Counseling ( Pathfinder), Knowledge Repository, IT Product Development, E-commerce, Training and Workshop, Urban & Rural Reach, Mentoring Support, Competition for women, Women entrepreneurship development, SheForHe program for man technological empowerment for balancing gender equality.

Bangladesh is probably one of the best countries in South Asia to encourage women in the digital space. Because of the government’s initiatives like Digital Bangladesh, we have the opportunity to reach even the most remote region, train the girls and also find them international jobs. There is a huge opportunity. I am proud of training 7868 women, but we have potential for millions. Of course there are challenges, it starts with the family,society, education system, exposure, attitude of job providers, and much more. But we have already come a long way. From being the only girl in the class, to being able to see thousands of girls. Women in Digital is not only a dream, it is a reality and a platform for a better future for women and girls in this country.

This story was submitted in response to Become a Featured Changemaker.

Comments 11

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Chi8629
Jun 28
Jun 28

Thank you for sharing.

Achia Nila
Jun 29
Jun 29

You are most welcome dear :)

Jill Langhus
Jun 29
Jun 29

Hello Achia,

Wow! Thanks so much for sharing more about your work. Good luck with your application!

Achia Nila
Jun 29
Jun 29

Thank you so much Jill :)

Jill Langhus
Jun 29
Jun 29

You're welcome!

Achia Nila
Jun 29
Jun 29

<3 <3 <3

Hello, Achia,

You are a trailblazer of technology in Bangladesh! Thank you for sharing your impressive journey on tech. I hope you make it!

Achia Nila
Jun 30
Jun 30

Thank you so much Karen. Keep me in your prayers.

You're welcome. Sure!

Julie Desai
Jul 04
Jul 04

Great initiative. We should connect

Achia Nila
Jul 04
Jul 04

Hi Julie, Thanks for your comments. Yes, we should :)