Empowering Girls will unlock their potential and drive economic growth

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Stakeholders have committed to continue supporting women and girls in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics as this is a sure way of driving economic growth.

Speaking at the Leading Education and Trade Transformation in Girls and Women event organized by the Commonwealth Business Women Africa (CBWA) Uganda chapter and held at Kitante Primary School, Kampala, Hon. Baroness Sandip Verma – a Member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom noted that underrepresentation of women in STEM continues to be a major issue that requires collective affirmative action from all stakeholders. She acknowledged that even though a lot of positives have been observed in the recent past, more effort is needed for full inclusion to be achieved.

Women continue to face significant barriers to education and trade.  In Uganda for example; only 53 per cent of girls complete primary school, compared to 63 per cent of boys, Women account for only 37 per cent STEM professionals, Women make up only 35 per cent of entrepreneurs, despite comprising about 52 per cent of the population (Source: World Bank) and Women-owned businesses face significant barriers including limited access to financing, limited access to training, and limited access to business networks.

According to Amb. Damali Ssali, the Ideation Corner Founder and also United Nations Women Entrepreneurship Day Organisation (WEDO) Ambassador for Uganda, the “Leading Education and Trade Transformation in Girls and Women” event is a testament to stakeholders’ collective commitment to empowering girls and women, through education and entrepreneurship.

“I am happy to note that initiatives, offered by the Common-Wealth Business- Women Africa, such as the One Million Girls Coding Program and the Online Trade Centre Platform, aim to bridge this gap and provide opportunities for girls and women to succeed. It is only by empowering women and girls, through education and entrepreneurship, that we will be able to unlock their potential and drive economic growth,” Damali Ssali said, adding;

“We at the Ideation Corner, strongly believe in the power of innovation and entrepreneurship, to transform lives and communities. Through our platform, we provide resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities to entrepreneurs, especially women, to help them to being their ideas to life and scale their businesses. Our mission is to create a community where entrepreneurs can share ideas, learn from each other, and access resources, to overcome challenges. We aim to bridge the gap in access to funding, mentorship, and business networking for women entrepreneurs. And I am happy to announce that we will be holding our third Women Entrepreneurship Celebration on 5 July 2024, here in Kampala.”

One Million Girls Coding Program.

The event attracted several dignitaries, ICT stakeholders, and Women Inclusion champions such as Dr Maggie Kigozi, Cleopatra Kanyunyuzi – Founder Club Tangaza, Flavia Eleanor Kasenge – COO Ezeemoney, Sandra Kirenga – Economist & Trade Expert, Anna Nambooze – TradeMark Africa Country Director for Uganda & South Sudan and His Worship Salim Uhuru – KCCA Central Division Mayor.

As part of its commitment to supporting Women in STEM, CBWA is also spearheading the One Million Girls Coding Program across Africa. In Uganda, this coding program is already being implemented by selected schools such as Mt. St. Mary’s College, Namagunga.

The girls coding community was represented by Club Code XX from Mt. St. Mary’s College, Namagunga. The club showcased some of its ICT innovations and also participated in the panel discussions. Other schools present included Kitante Primary and Kitante Secondary School.

According to Emily Sonia Nakabuye, a founding member of Club Code XX, Namagunga, girls in STEM continue to be challenged with multifaceted issues including limited support, absence of proper mentorship, resources and guidance.

“We have taken part in a lot of competitions and won several. So as students, we win competitions, get prize money and either use it individually or as a school. But what next after this prize money is spent up. There are no proper support systems to ensure the fully actualization of these competition winning ideas and prototypes. To us students, it is somewhat demoralizing to go for competitions and the ideas die out there. As future leaders, we need dedicated support to realize our dreams.”

Nonetheless, Cleopatra Kanyunyuzi, the Founder of Club Tangaza – a coding school for Children, Youth and Beginners, noted that even though women are still underrepresented in STEM, there are positive signs of inclusion with more women now having a chance to take up STEM courses and use the knowledge gained to empower other women and transform their communities.