|“ Since my early high-tech startups, I have always aspired and set up programs to allow girls to participate in the digital economy. I figure if girls see other women in leadership positions, they will always have the courage to try. “–– Sophia Bekele, Founder of Miss.Africa
|Greetings!Let us join this International Women’s Day to celebrate the achievements of women globally – a special day for women to be honored, awarded, and appreciated. With 2017 witnessing global activism women led campaigns in the tech industry such as #WomenInTech, #STEM, #Tech4Girls , #EqualsInTech, and our own #miss.africadigital as well as non-tech campaigns such as #BanBossy, #Iamthatgirl, #MeToo, #Timesup, among others, the 2018 International women’s day theme by United Nations #PressforProgress couldn’t be any better.
More women have come out strongly to join male dominated fields and also demanding that the gender gap be recognized. Women have become more ambitious, innovative and accomplished in their roles and are using this to push the limits of their opportunity confidently and with a great sense of responsibility and care.
My visit to the John Muir Hospital in my US home town of Walnut Creek just yesterday evening brings this issue home . My visit was to accompany my Mom who had appointment with Doctors. As I walked through one of the corridors, we came across what I would call ‘Halls of Pictures’, displaying proudly the contributors to the hospital mostly its Doctors of course from its early days. I stopped to observe. Nearly over 30 pictures were displayed and as usual instinctively, I found myself searching for women figures among the list of all male Doctors who dominate the entire hallway. I may not be surprised of its past history given the hospital was founded nearly 30 years ago. Yet, I could not help looking for where I might find a woman figure, and asking my Mom to help me with my search, when my eyes landed on two women doctors, who were recognized around the time of the Hospital founding and then other few women pictures listed a decade later in 2008.
It was not until I turned to the opposite side of the Hall that my Aha! moment happened and I was gleaming with a big smile that anyone passing would notice. and both myself and Mom were happy. There we saw a large frame of pictures with current Executive Committee Members and Board of Directors. To my shocking surprise, nearly 90% of the positions represented women figure heads. Not only I was relieved but so delighted how women are advancing at a rapid rate in such traditional careers and male dominated Corporate environment.
I am most confident that today women and girls will look through the same lens I do when they see Board Members and Executive Committees and even founders of organizations ranging from startups to large institutions.
Therefore, I am very proud to use this opportunity to remind that our pioneering Miss.Africa digital program and Seed Fund, an initiative by DotConnectAfrica Trust, has been part of the global campaign to bridge such gender divide since its founding, and is forever geared towards supporting women and enabling them to discover and utilize their hidden potential.
The annual Seed Fund competition continually offer grants to support women and girls in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields to launch or expand their own initiatives that increase their digital opportunities in such areas as, IT related training, jobs creation and leadership roles. This year is no exception, as we are working to increase capacity and make more impact.
Last year our Miss.Africa Digital program was among the 5 finalist nominated for the prestigious EqualsInTech award by the United Nations arm of the ITU. You can read about it below in the highlights from Miss.Africa section.
In Africa where we operate, technology and innovation have been a key drivers in ensuring the inherent capability of women and girls. The internet as the main driver of this of technology is being utilized effectively by women, where women are using it to assert their rights, representation, participation and accelerating their knowledge.
Finally, combining the 2018 United Nation’s theme for Women #PressForProgress with DotConnectAfrica’s New Year’s theme for 2018 #PowerYourInnovation our Miss.Africa digital is looking forward to be part of the solution in empowering and increasing the practical skills to more women and girls to build their business and innovative ideas. This year we expect the storm of the global campaigns for gender equity to continue at the same rate or higher, therefore tune in.
” Gender equality will only be reached if we are able to empower women,” Michelle Bachelet .
We encourage everyone to #PressForProgress to #PowerYourInnovation
Sincerely,SophiaFounder, Miss.Africa Digital