The Climate Effect of Supporting Young Women in Tech
It would be safe to say that Mercy Birungi would have laughed off the idea of becoming a Software Engineer at KEIphone Global, an organization that seeks to bridge the digital gender divide by providing women with access to digital tools. If you ask around, Mercy would not only have found the idea of working in tech and using her skills as a force for good incredible but also the idea of her defying the odds was laughable. For a long time, she felt crippled by the lack of opportunities to learn and gain the skills that would allow her to get her foot in the door. Her brain constantly buzzed with ideas and solutions to day-to-day problems that she would solve if given the chance. At the time, the only opportunities within her reach were voluntary opportunities in social work. Though helping others provided a wonderful sense of fulfilment, economic progress seemed out of reach and her dream of working in tech became fleeting. Like many young women and girls, Mercy shouldered the consequence of the lack of opportunity and the necessary hard skills to break through, which places young women in the difficult position of making a career move. But, once Mercy enrolled in the codeHive program the training she received translated the gaps into a trailhead of opportunity which paved the way not only for herself but for many other women and girls. Today, she works hard to keep abreast of the changing needs at her workplace. She consistently delivers on her tasks — steadily amassing a track record of excellence despite being the youngest and only female in her team. This comes as no surprise but is a matter of great pride for AkiraChix. Now that she is an earning member of the family, Mercy has more financial freedom and her family’s financial status has improved. It’s a win-win that benefits not only her but her community more broadly. Mercy is definitely a rising star, she carries herself with a gentle but firm confidence. An attribute that has enabled her remarkable growth since graduating from AkiraChix. She embodies the hope of change possible if we only invest more in girls- and young-women-designed learning solutions fit for the ever-growing and changing industry. There is an urgent need to build the female talent pipeline across Africa. This is never more apparent than when women and girls feel that opportunities in tech are out of reach, and their dreams are out of sight.