IYF equips young women for careers in technology and promotes gender equity.

Even though women's underrepresentation in technology is not new, progress has been slow, and if left unattended to, it will become a pressing economic challenge for Africa.

 

Technological advancements have created a digital economy that continues to develop new work forms, transforming the job market and yet, unemployment in young women persists in the IT sector. There are numerous reasons why the technology industry is still a man's world, including lack of female mentors, gender inequality in STEM jobs, and lack of hands-on experience. 

 

The International Youth Foundation (IYF) South Africa is determined to change this reality and have partnered with Google.org to provide a majority female cohort of learners with IT training opportunities that will equip them with the skills needed to build a career in technology and promote gender equity. More than 80% of the learners are female and are thoroughly enjoying and excelling in the program that offers a Google.org Certificate in IT Support, Project Management, Data Analytics, and UX Design.

 

Women struggle to enroll in digital programs because of their family and household responsibilities, which prevent them from attending training sessions. Despite this, participants on the Skills for Success program believe this training will enhance their chances of finding a job in the IT industry.  The IYF and its partners are committed to reducing the high rate of unemployment among young women in Africa, which often leads to social exclusion, making it difficult for them to earn an income or further their education.

 

Young African women in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria are overcoming these odds by ensuring gender balance and equity in technology through their participation in IYF’s Skills for Success program. According to Sixolile Beja, a learner on the Skills for Success program, “Technology is useful and essential. It is a tool to empower young people and create employment.”

 

“Creating avenues for young women to exchange knowledge and collaborate is necessary to promote gender equity and motivate them to learn more about technology. Young women who are given the opportunity to develop their skills will be empowered to challenge existing stereotypes about science, technology, and innovation," says Anusha Naicker, South Africa’s Country Director for IYF.

 

By expanding IT programs, Skills for Success can scale its impact and attract more young women to the digital economy.

 

More qualified women in the IT sector will increase their capacity to reach their economic potential. Women are uniquely suited to prepare young generations for digital economies, which is why education is so important to improve their digital literacy. Increasing women's access to science and technology must be a priority for business and government.

 

We cannot improve the employment outlook for Africa’s youth without looking critically at the pathways into employment. Once these young women are qualified, they face many barriers in the search for work. Employers should recognise that a diverse team produces more innovation when it challenges each other and offers new perspectives, and the IT sector could benefit from making gender diversity a business priority.

 

In recognising female tech leaders, more girls and young women will be encouraged to pursue careers in tech, increasing the diversity of the workforce. The programs and policies that work must recommit to advancing women's economic equality. Inaction must not stand in the way of women's economic advancement.

 

Decisive action is needed for young women to take a seat at the table to engage men on gender equity in the IT sector and in a few years, we should have strong role models for young girls and women.

 

Background

IYF® stands by, for, and with young people. Founded in 1990 through a generous grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, IYF is a global non-profit with programs directly benefiting 7.7 million young people and operations spanning 100 countries so far.  Together with local community-based organizations and a network of corporate, foundation, and multilateral partners, we connect young people with opportunities to transform their lives.

 

We believe that educated, employed, engaged young people possess the power to solve the world’s toughest problems, and we focus our youth development efforts on three linked objectives: unlocking agency, driving economic opportunity, and making systems more inclusive. Our vision is to see young people inspired and equipped to realize the future they want. IYF Transforming Lives, Together.

 

To learn more, please join us at www.iyfnet.org

 

For interviews contact Kaamini Reddy on kaamini@kredd.co.za or on 072 620 6146.