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Young girls set to stay ahead of the curve with their coding skills

Over the past decades, the phrase ‘a girl belongs home’ was heavily rooted among those who didn’t recognize the potential of young girls, limiting them to only household chores. This approach hindered national development as girls were left behind.

Anyone who tried to advocate for their rights was seen as a rebel, with family members distancing themselves. Pursuing an education became a defiance, as their male siblings were the ones primarily expected to go to school.

However, things started to change, especially after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

In 1995, Rwanda signed an agreement in Beijing, China aimed at advancing women’s rights.

Since then, Rwanda realized that in order to overcome the effects of the genocide, everyone needed to contribute to national development, without leaving anyone behind.

Policies were implemented where every child, regardless of gender, was treated equally. Girls were given the opportunity to go to school and be equipped with the same skills as boys. As of now, previous prejudices have borne fruitful results.

Currently, Rwanda is known internationally for having a high percentage of women in the Parliament, with 61% in the Chamber of Deputies, 38% in the Senate, and 50% in the Government, while local levels are expected to have 30% representation of women, as per the law.

The provision of education for girls has not only been limited to traditional subjects. It has extended to fields traditionally reserved for boys, like science, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Rwanda is making significant progress in these areas.

Data from the 2021/2022 academic year shows that among 158,809 students in STEM, 47.7% are girls, while boys account for 53.3%.

Even though courses related to coding technology are newly introduced in Rwanda, girls are not left behind. They are excelling and demonstrating that they are reclaiming their worth and won’t be belittled any longer.

The first batch of 25 girls completed coding training under the UN Women’s program known as ‘Africana Girls Can Code Initiative: AGCCI.’ The program aims to encourage girls to participate in these courses, and these girls have shown that the knowledge they have acquired will transform their lives in various ways.

In Rwanda, these training programs prioritize students who excel in STEM subjects. They are provided with laptops and other tools to enhance their technological skills.

Muhoza Denyse, who completed her advanced studies in Life Sciences, Anatomy, and Earth Science, initially thought that computers were only used for entertainment or writing. She says, “Since completing these courses, we’ve understood the power of technology and the value of the laptops provided. The technology we’ve learned will help us create innovations, especially based on our studies, and launch projects that solve community problems.”

In this program, students are trained in software programming, website development, and other projects using robots to address community challenges.

Muhoza adds, “It’s crucial that we value our abilities and reflect on where girls have not been given importance. We hope our peers will benefit from this opportunity as we share our knowledge with them.”

This sentiment is echoed by Bizimungu Mugire Sangwa Natasha, who completed her studies in Computer Science, Mathematics, and Intelligence at Maranyundo Girls School. She says, “I used to think coding and using robots were for highly intelligent individuals and not for girls. But I realized it’s merely an unfounded fear; we can actually do it and do it well.”

She aspires to further her studies in technology and hopes to represent Rwanda in competitions, making her country proud.

It’s planned that the second batch of 25 girls will also be trained. After six months of training, they will compete with peers from 11 other countries in a UN Women’s program to evaluate the impact of their education.

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