The tech sector is one of the most important growth markets worldwide. New industries and new jobs are springing up not just in the industrialised economies but also across Africa: cities such as Accra in Ghana and Kigali in Rwanda have become hubs in a vibrant startup scene. So far, though, women have been less able than men to benefit from this growth: around the world, women occupy only one in four jobs in the tech sector.
The German development agency GIZ is working on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) to close the digital gender divide. The #eSkills4Girls Global Initiative promotes training, employment and entrepreneurship for women in the tech sector. The initiative was launched in 2017 in the course of Germany’s G20 Presidency.
One example of its activities is training for women run by social entrepreneur Ivy Barley and her team in Accra. Participants learn to code and complete coaching and mentoring programmes for women setting up businesses.
#eSkills4Girls also focuses on strategic partnerships with companies. For example, a training programme called Africa Code Week is run each year in partnership with software producer SAP. It gives children and young people their first taste of programming skills. In 2018, as part of the programme, GIZ supported workshops, which accommodated 14,000 participants across 15 African countries, to specifically develop digital skills.
Another approach taken by #eSkills4Girls is to promote female role models from the tech sector in a targeted way. Female tech entrepreneurs like Ivy Barley show young women that common clichés about gender roles are now out of date.