She Will Connect, computer manufacturer Intel's personal and professional development program for women and girls, has launched a new web-based app aimed at educating African girls about the internet and digital entrepreneurship. The new platform is called My Digital Journey, and was recently unveiled in beta for girls in certain African nations.
Women from South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria can access the portal at this time, which uses gaming mechanics to draw interest and measure achievement in technology education, while also allowing girls to interact with each other in a safe online environment.
Students receive a digital completion certificate after completing three quests, writes Telecom Paper, which each consist of three to six missions. Missions may take 15 to 45 minutes each, reports IT Web, depending on the student's level of engagement. Missions include a personality assessment, creating an email address, and a technological myth-busting.
Luvuyo Mdeni of SABC says the online learning platform is meant to be used on PCs and tablets by women aged 18 to 35 and works best on the Chrome browser. The system is designed to be very easy to use for those without much technological experience and includes a helpful female guide who interacts with users in a format resembling instant messaging. Users can also customize the profile that is shown to other users.
Rosalind Hudnell, Intel Foundation's President, said at the program's launch:
This learning platform provides women and girls with a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and to access additional resources that support learning in a safe environment.
Gaining access to the internet enables women and girls to improve their self-esteem and expression, expand their social and political participation, gain new skills that enable them to obtain formal education, become entrepreneurs or secure employment, and get access to information and new connections within their communities and beyond.
Younger girls in impoverished communities with limited internet access are expected to benefit the most from My Digital Journey.
She Will Connect was first introduced as a direct response to the Women and the Web Report, which found that on average there are 25% fewer women than men online in developing countries. This makes for a total of 200 million fewer women than men on the internet, reports IT News Africa. The largest digital gender gap is in sub-Saharan Africa, at 43 percent.
UN Women Deputy Regional Director for eastern and southern Africa Simone Ellis Oluoch-Olunya spoke at the program's launch event. She stated that she hopes that technology access can enhance the economic empowerment of women, which is one of the UN's five priority areas for increasing the quality of life for women.
Hopefully, improving women's access to the internet will create a domino effect of increased opportunity for women and families in these areas, thereby improving the economies of the nations in the long run.
The portal is currently in beta but an updated version will be launched soon, reports Lungelo Shezi of HTXT. The full release will be available across sub-Saharan Africa.