I am turning into a techie!

yvoneakoth
Posted March 14, 2020 from Kenya
Embracing new possibilities with technological advancement
Making a presentation at EWHA Women's University Seoul, South Korea.

 

I have always loved technology, especially in the digital age of the internet. Smartphones and smart laptops are my favorite technological tools. However, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could have a deep interest in computer technology, in this case, artificial intelligence and data science. Why? someone might ask. Because I felt I wasnt smart enough to be any profession in STEM. At least, that is what I thought a few years back. Now that I think about it, I was a very ambitious in my childhood, especially when I joined high school. In Kenya, there is a special category of high schools reserved for the students who perform very well in their final year primary school exams. They are called national schools. I could say that this is an equivalent of the USA’s ‘Ivy league Schools’ but a high school equivalent in Kenya. Well, I managed to join a national school.  Upon joining high school, l I wanted to be a doctor, engineer or an entomologist. The entomologist dream came about after my class visited an insect research center. The researchers found my questions intriguing and advised me to consider entomology as a profession. At the time, technology-related careers were not common. Hence, it never crossed my mind. My ambition then led me to select STEM-related subjects. They included biology, chemistry and physics in addition to the arts.

Fast forward to 2020, I am not in any STEM profession. The reason being, that period of my life was accompanied by external family conflicts that affected my concentration in school. Hence, not getting good grades to take a STEM course at the university. Upon completing high school, I ended up pursuing my second best option. College education that could lead to careers in foreign policy, diplomacy and international affairs with a special focus in peace and security. Sadly, I didn't join university immediately after high school. The financial implication for my family was too much. I ended up taking short computer courses that would enable me to use computer programs like Microsoft word, excel and power-point. At least these would enable me to find paying volunteer opportunities. Later I added graphic design in my portfolio. After completing all my computer courses, I took up volunteering and later worked as an assistant for 2 youth development organizations in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. In my two years of volunteering and later working as a youth development assistant, I discovered the power of technology and the internet. Using my first small laptop and the internet, I enrolled in online short courses, participated in online forums and applied for capacity building workshops and training. By 2010, technology had already exposed me to the international arena. This included getting opportunities to speak in various United Nations forums,  participating in two international projects and serving as an international organizing committee member for UNESCO’s 2018 and 2019 Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week held annually.  I used the money earned from paying projects and speaking opportunities to finally pay for my university education. Without my little laptop and the internet, I would have never had these opportunities, let alone the exposure that came with them.

Today, I have a bachelor's degree in peace and conflict studies and currently enrolled in a Master's program in Security Intelligence and Strategic Studies at a University in the UK. Over the years, my work in peace and security has exposed me to data science analytics. It is for this reason that I have decided to pursue a degree course in security intelligence where I will integrate components of artificial intelligence and data science in my work. I recognize that the digital era has its pros and cons. People have used technology to perpetrate online bullying targeted mainly at women and girls. According to a 2015 report by the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development Working  Group, 73% of women worldwide have experienced cyber violence. A 2016 report in Kenya by the African Development Bank found that young women experience cyber violence that starts from personal hate speech to revenge porn to online intimidation. Perpetrators of organized crime have also gone ahead to use technology to spread propaganda and perpetrate cyber-crime by defrauding women through mobile technology. Women who are not well vast with systems such as online banking. I was once a victim of some of these cyber-crimes. However, there is a bright side to technology. Technology has also provided opportunities for thousands of women like me to broaden our horizons at a personal and a professional level. As a woman embracing technological advancement in my field of expertise, I am happy to apply cutting edge technological solutions that will have a lasting effect in my community, especially in the lives of women and girls. I look forward to being in a better position to diagnose threats that could lead to conflicts and prescribe possible solutions to mitigating those threats. I am excited about my new journey and cant wait to impart valuable skills, knowledge, and information to the next generation of women integrating innovative tech solutions in their lives and in their professional area of expertise.

This story was submitted in response to #SheTransformsTech.

Comments 10

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Jill Langhus
Mar 14
Mar 14

Hello Yvone,

How are you? What an amazing journey you've had thus far:-) Congrats! When do you complete your Master's? How do you think you'll be able to harness the knowledge you are gaining for your work? I'm eager to hear how you plan to implement it. Please keep us posted.

I hope you're well and having a good weekend.

yvoneakoth
Mar 14
Mar 14

Dear Jill,

I am fine. Thank you! I hope you are well. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. I am so excited about this opportunity. My Master's program is a 2-year program. I will graduate in December 2022.

Presently, I am in the process of taking a short course on data science analysis and artificial intelligence to build upon and gain a better understanding of what I will learn at the University. Once I finish the course, I will partner with a computer technology expert to train 10 local young women peacebuilders in my organization with data science analytical skills before I head for school. My goal is to train 10 young women in my organization on data science analysis where they will contribute to the organization's peacebuilding efforts using tech solutions. I will continue working with them via online platforms to build their skills and provide the necessary support while thousands of miles away thanks to technology.

Thank you once again and have a great weekend ahead!

Jill Langhus
Mar 16
Mar 16

Hello dear,

Good to hear:-) You're welcome! I'm doing fine, too, thanks.

That's great to hear. Very nice! Great job!

Wow! Impressive. Looking forward to hearing more about it.

You're welcome. You, too!

Anita Shrestha
Mar 15
Mar 15

Thank you sharing

Rahmana Karuna
Mar 15
Mar 15

How inspiring!!! Appears you have done so much. So many experiences. Terrific!!
i feel better already knowing you are involved in safety and peace!!!!

Hello Yvone,

Congratulations on your milestones and achievements! What an inspiring woman you are! We celebrate you, and we are proud of you! Please keep us posted with your updates!

Chidimma
Mar 23
Mar 23

Thanks for sharing and congrats on your achievement. Keep the write up.

Beth Lacey
Mar 26
Mar 26

This is great to read about

otahelp
Mar 27
Mar 27

Dear Yvonne please i will want to be one of your students. i work on peace and conflict too as one of my focus especially on women inclusion. it is really exciting reading through your journey of life but i also keyed into your excitement. thank you for sharing your story

lizzymark
May 03
May 03

Hi Yvonne am glad that you have found your interest and are enjoying it.sometimes somethings happen to us that are not interesting but they lead us to finds our way. So great all you have accomplished and are still pursuing I wish you the best and sure technology is really doing us good. We can still go on learning even in this challenging times sure tech