The United Nations Women (UN Women) has partnered Ministry of Education to launch Malawi Girls Can Code Too Initiative to reduce the digital gender divide and economically empower young women through increased digital and technology access.
The $2 million (about K2.3 billion) four-year project, funded by the Irish Government, will benefit about 7 500 young women and girls from eight districts of Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzimba, Zomba, Dedza, Balaka, Dowa and Thyolo.
Speaking during the launch in Lilongwe yesterday, UN Women country representative Letty Chiwara said rural women and girls must not be left out in today’s digital world.
She said: “This project aligns with our Women Economic Empowerment thematic area whose aim is to ensure that women and girls have income security, decent work, and economic autonomy. This component focuses on promoting job and wealth creation through skills.”
Ministry of Education Principal Secretary responsible for basic education Rachel Chimbwete Phiri described the project as a big step in eliminating gender inequalities and promoting economic inclusiveness.
“This project is very important as it will help address existing social inequalities,” she said.
In his remarks, Irish Ambassador Seamus O’Grady said equality is important for the overall development of Malawi; hence, the commitment to fund the project.
Among others, the project, which runs from 2023 to 2027, will set up innovation hubs in secondary schools and establish boot camps in universities and institutions of higher learning for knowledge and skills transfer on information and communications technology (ICT), Coding, and Entrepreneurship.
It will also set up a platform for knowledge exchange and interaction between project beneficiaries and women and girls ICT experts in Malawi and Africa.
Malawi continues to lag behind in access to digital technology, especially among rural women and girls. According to the Malawi Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2019-2020), 18 percent of men use the Internet compared to only seven percent of women. It further indicates that men are three times more Iikely to possess computer skills than women. nWomen from Ntekera II Village in Senior Chief Wasambo in Karonga District have commended Karonga Diocese of the Catholic Church for sinking boreholes in the area.
Ntekera II Water Point Committee vice-chairperson Margaret Nyirenda said this during a media tour of the area on Saturday.
“People used to drink water from unprotected sources such as swamps,” she said.
Village head Ntekera II said the potable water will promote personal hygiene in the area. He said he will urge his subjects to take care of the facilities.
Community member Grace Ndovie said her children are able to go to school on time.
“My children used to report late for classes due to water scarcity, but we now fetch water within reach,” she said.
Ndovie also said the availability of clean water will help people prevent waterborne diseases.
“In the wake of cholera cases in the country, we need clean water to prevent the further spread of cases,” she said.
Karonga Diocese Caritas secretary Mwabi Shaba urged the water users committee to construct fences around the boreholes to prevent domestic animals.
“We also ask the committee to ask people to contribute money to help carry out maintenance works,” he said.
With funding from Cross Catholic Outreach, Karonga Diocese is implementing a five-year Community Transformation Project in its catchment districts of Chitipa, Karonga and Rumphi districts.
The diocese is implementing interventions in agriculture, health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, education and spiritual evangelisation.