BY DAYO ADESULU
The U.S. Consulate General has launched a new project aimed at empowering 300 high school girls in Osun State to pursue education and careers in STEM fields.
Through the project tagged “Osun Girls Can Code,” the 300 schoolgirls will receive training on coding, web design, and product creation, all key skills needed in today’s increasingly competitive job market. The goal of encouraging the role of girls and women in STEM fields has been the cornerstone of the technology-learning programs supported by the U.S. Mission in Nigeria.
Speaking during the inauguration of the project in Osogbo, U.S. Consul General Claire Pierangelo noted that the six months capacity building program will foster a supportive community where the young girls can receive mentorship, network and share internship opportunities in STEM fields.
Pierangelo explained that the “Osun Girls Can Code” program is one of the many initiatives of the U.S. Mission that seeks to ensure gender parity, and provide women and girls with opportunities to contribute to creating sustainable and inclusive economic prosperity for Nigeria.
“The United States promotes the rights and empowerment of women and girls in our foreign policy, and we have invested millions of dollars to advance gender equality across sub-Saharan Africa,” Pierangelo said.
“When barriers to the participation of women and girls in STEM fields are removed, we all benefit. Whether at home or abroad, promoting women in the STEM fields is a U.S. government priority.”
In addition to the capacity building program for the 300 high school girls, 60 female STEM teachers from Osun State will receive training to help teach more effectively and on how to mentor women and girls about careers in tech fields.
The project will end with a pitch competition to showcase the participants’ achievements, with U.S. Consulate representatives taking part on the panel and the winning schools receiving prizes. A 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow, Dayo Adeniyi, is implementing the project with a public diplomacy grant from the U.S. Consulate General.
The U.S. government has introduced a number of programs to create opportunities for women in the tech field. In 2011, the U.S. government introduced the TechWomen program to empower the next generation of women leaders in the technology field. This exchange program brings together women in Northern California with their counterparts in the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria for a professional mentorship at leading technology companies in the U.S.