In line with the vision of empowering women to balance the gender disparity in the society, Cybersafe Foundation has graduated its first Cohort of digital skilled young women under the DigiGirls Initiative.
In an event that coincided with the observance of the International Women’s Day celebration, the DigiGirls first batch of 2400 women that have completed the three-month digital skills acquisition training were graduated.
The project, which is in collaboration with the UK government through its Digital Access Program (DAP), was initiated to skill and upskill women between the ages of 15-40 years old with in-demand basic to intermediary employable digital skills.
This programme has three key pillars, namely Training, Mentorship and Internship. These employable digital skills will drive positive livelihood outcomes for trainees themselves and their families, improve employment prospects, encourage digital entrepreneurship in women and girls, and generally provide marginalised females in underserved communities with the skills needed to develop successful careers in today’s digital economy.
According to the Founder/CEO of Cybersafe Foundation, Confidence Staveley, with 2400 beneficiaries in the first Cohort resident in all the States across Nigeria, and the FCT, this purpose-built female-focused programme was able to achieve resounding succeed owing to a handful of strategic elements.
She explained that the programme employs Peer Learning Group system, State Hangouts where participants in each state cluster to interact, build connections and relationship within their communities. These complement their virtual participation in the training modules.
“This event held to create bonds, a sense of community, and expand the network of our beneficiaries.”
The trainees also have learning support from Success Advisors or Virtual Assistants, who lead peer Learning groups and act as a first point of contact for beneficiaries and a feedback channel for Cybersafe Foundation.
Success Advisors monitor the learning progress of beneficiaries entrusted on them, follow up with them up through calls and messages.
Some of the improved features for the second Cohort, which will train 4000 beneficiaries, include the inclusion of disability consideration, gamification and scaling for more impact.
Staveley however pointed to some challenges that face the programme to inlcude infrastructure, where quite a number of beneficiaries do not own a laptopand found it difficult to gain access to one during the duration of the course;
In her remark, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing expressed her delight that the UK government has agreed to increase its level of investment in the programme.
“We are also delighted that, as announced last month by the UK’s Minister for Africa, during her visit to Nigeria, we are able to expand this project to directly benefit an additional 4000 women, and reach a further 10,000 women through the train the trainer approach.”
She is optimistic that the programme will help in addressing the digital inequality in Nigeria, which currently holds a 15% gender gap against women.
“The UK supports Nigeria in its bold ambition to create 100 million jobs in 10 years and we believe that the Digital Economy can play a major part in unlocking this.
Improving girls’ access to education is a key part of the UK’s G7 Presidency and is at the heart of global efforts to build back better from the pandemic.
That is why we are pleased to be here today at the graduation of the first cohort of 2400 women and girls who benefited from the Digi-Girls project.”
Laing noted that the UK firmly believes in the future growth story of Nigeria’s digital sector, which currently the ICT sector contributes about 15% to Nigeria’s GDP, and certainly more than oil.
“To continue to drive this growth, Nigeria needs a combination of: increased access to safe, affordable, faster and better quality internet, an encouraging regulatory environment, a skilled talent pool, and access to investment and partnership opportunities,” she said.
Also speaking at the event, honourary British PM for the IWD, Veronica Aina enthused that she was “looking forward to a time in Nigeria, and the world, where women in tech will no longer be a thing.”
She explained that the issue of fighting for gender equality will be a thing of the past if equal opportunities is enshrined and gender disparity is eradicated, giving rise to a society where gender becomes a no-issue.
This year’s IWD is themed “Gender Equality Today For A Sustainable Tomorrow”, with a hashtag, “Break The Bias”.