I graduated from the University and could not use the computer because digital literacy was still emerging at the time. Very few skilled trainers were available, and it was not only expensive to enroll to learn the basics of using a computer, it also required time investment. Unfortunately, my schooling calendar was not one that afforded me the luxury of enrolling in a computer programme. By the time I was concluding my undergraduate program, I had only enrolled in an intensive 2 weeks programme that taught me the basics of browsing the internet and setting up an email which I believed would get me through simple communication throughout my law school programme and to secure a good job. What I did not realize at the time was that basic computer skills, particularly Microsoft Office skills, had fast become a standard requirement to secure a good job.
After I completed my Law School Programme and my compulsory one year youth corps service as an education instructor to recruit officers and paralegal in the Military Police Unit in the Artillery Brigade where I worked during my youth service, I was exploring a job opportunity in a consulting firm as a project officer. During my job interview, my prospective boss at the time asked me, ‘How proficient is your computer skills?’ And I answered, in all honesty and sudden fear that the road to my dream job had ended because of my computer skills limitation, ‘Sir, I can only use the computer to browse the internet for basic searches and to check emails.’ And he specifically inquired again, ‘So, you don’t know how to type a letter in Microsoft Word or develop a sheet in Microsoft Excel?’ And I responded even less confidently, ‘No Sir, I can try but it will probably take me a while to figure it out because I have not deliberately learned the skills or even practiced the skills enough.’ But I quickly added, as if to attempt to save the job I was already throwing myself out of before I got the chance to explore it, ‘I am a really fast learner if I am given the opportunity to build and develop my computer skills.
I was fortunate to secure the job and experience the opportunity to build my computer skills from near-nothing to where I am today. My boss, at the time, gave me about 2 months to build my skills by literally learning on the job and I maximized the opportunity and developed myself. The organization also invested in a professional Microsoft Office training by a certified Microsoft Trainer which I also leveraged to push myself further. In a little over a year, my laptop had become a very close companion that I could not imagine my life without it around me or easily accessible to me. Over my years on the job, I grew and built additional computer skills that have gone on to open opportunities for me in the technology ecosystem. I must acknowledge my supporters and enablers who have inspired the tech leadership I champion for girls and women today.
Today, I am a proud tech evangelist fueled by my passion to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among adolescent girls and women in my country. My organization, Girls Voices Initiative, works to educate girls about their rights and empower girls to champion advocacy for the protection of their rights and we build girls skills in technology and digital media through which they can innovate creative ideas to champion their advocacy. Some of the highlight programs we have led include the Tech Girls Advocacy Program that empowered 100 girls in the public secondary school system with digital literacy and advanced digital skills in coding, digital art/illustration, photography, filmmaking, creative writing, and research using Google Tools. The girls used the skills they had learned to carry out projects to amplify their advocacy to end child marriage, end gender-based violence, and promote girl’s education. The outputs of the TGAP included website & mobile app development, cartoon illustrations/animations, photography illustration/story-telling, film production, poetry & prose development, and research report writing. Also, my recent posts shared highlights about out #GirlsInnovate and #WomenInnovate outreach to empower girls and women with tech skills as part of the #BalanceForBetter global campaign to mark the International Women’s Day #IWD2019 and the theme, ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’. Watch the video highlights! In celebration of the International Day of Girls in ICT, we would be train adolescent girls in coding skills and prepare them for a local hackathon competition with the winning team proceeding to represent Nigeria in a global hackathon competition for high school girls around the world. STEM Girls Rock! Tech Girls Rock!