Initiative Update

Is Poverty Affecting More Girls From Learning Digital Skills and Getting Involved in STEM?

Adanna
Posted September 16, 2020 from Nigeria
InspireIT Workshop in Ogun State
InspireIT Workshop in Ogun State

This year took unexpected turn and it really affected everyone around the world and almost everything from learning to shopping to schooling to travelling etc. However, it also "opened our eyes" in different ways and changed some of the ways we viewed certain things.  These changes also prompted many people and organizations to reconsider virtual way of doing things.

For us at InspireIT, it really reaffirmed what we have always believed that digital skills is one of the gateways to economic empowerment for many girls and women. Also, that technology has great potential for advancing development, reducing poverty, and transforming relationships both personal and professional.  Seventy-five percent of our STEM workshops for girls in primary and secondary schools are carried out in schools but this year we had to readjust to other means of reaching out to girls in various communities. To still carry out our training workshops, me and my team had to think of strategic ways to reach out to girls (and boys) who were interested in learning digital and coding skills. Also, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a total lockdown in Nigeria from March to June and the lockdown was only eased on 1st July, so many children were at home not doing anything.

Using Nigeria as an example, I have conducted many STEM workshops in both urban and rural areas. There are myriad of complex underlying challenges (directly and indirectly) from religion to culture to poverty to corruption to lack of education to patriarchy that affect a lot of girls (and women) interested in learning digital skills and pursuing careers in STEM especially in the rural areas. These issues are sometimes interwoven and can be a bit complex. However, from my observation, poverty is still a major underlying challenge for many girls especially those in rural areas as many can barely afford to eat three square meals daily. I also believe that this also affect the ones who manage to acquire digital skills because majority of the time, they find it difficult putting their skills to use especially due to lack of finances to buy a computer or even to pay for transport to attend workshops, seminars, conferences or buy data for online use. The reality that sometimes, women building their careers in STEM fields have to "double their efforts" to be heard and sometimes "being overlooked" even when they are more than qualified for a position often makes some girls feel like "why bother at all?." Many girls in primary and secondary schools, see these things play out in their families and neighborhoods, some read about it in the media and this further discourages them from even trying to pursue a STEM course in the university.

Sometimes, while you are tackling the lacking of digital skills either as an individual or as an organization, you are also thinking about the issue of sustainability considering the high rate of poverty.  Eighty percent of the time, many girls in rural areas do not have access to computers/laptops and in some remote areas, there is little or no internet connection and where there is internet connection; eighty-nine percent of the time, it is unstable. In some cases where these girls learn digital skills, they have no laptops/computers at home to practice with neither can they practice at their schools because there are no computers in their schools.

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Comments 7

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Jill Langhus
Sep 16
Sep 16

Thanks for your update, Dear Adanna! Keep up the great work:-)

XX

Adanna
Sep 16
Sep 16

Thank you my dear Jill :-)
XX

Jill Langhus
Sep 16
Sep 16

You're welcome, dear! XX

Chi8629
Sep 17
Sep 17

Thank you for sharing.

Adanna
Sep 19
Sep 19

Thank you Chi.

Hello, Adanna,

Kudos to you on your hard work to teach digital and coding skills to as many girls as you can. You are changing their lives and their future. How I wish I was one of those girls who learn from you. I admire your courage and kindness. Eighty percent is a huge number. That means more work is to be done. But I am hopeful that the girls you train today will be teachers of tech tomorrow. You've paved a way for a bright future for them, dear. This will multiply exponentially, and hopefully, as more girls are in tech, the rate of poverty will increase. So great job, dear sister! I'm proud of you!

Adanna
Sep 23
Sep 23

Dear Karen,

Thank you so much my dear sis.

Yes, more work needs to be done but I believe we will get there gradually especially with collective efforts from all.

Getting more girls on board will definitely reduce poverty because more girls will be economically empowered as a result of the skill(s) learnt.

Knowledge is power!

XX