Girls in IT was an event made to combine the international commemoration of World ICT Day and the empowering of women. The main idea was to inspire, motivate and put the world of ICT in the hands of the high school girls at Saint Patrick’s International High School. To achieve this, influential Malawian women in ICT were asked to speak to and interact with the girls.
How it went
Girls in IT got off to a great start. The Malawi YWCA and Dibs Africa Ltd. representatives got to the location on time and set up was done effectively with the much appreciated cooperation of the Saint Patrick’s School staff.
Times Television, Daily Times (Newspaper) and MBC TV were there to cover the event.
The speakers were, Mrs. Thandi Mbvundula, Macheza Dzabala of Dibs Africa, Miss Kulukaya Sadiki and her team from Neuro Tech Malawi.
The girls seemed to be unsure of what was going on at first but as the program proceeded, they seemed to warm up to the separate speakers and start to engage with the speakers and what they had to say. Especially when they were getting prizes for participation and sharing their ideas of what they would do with technology (prizes included YWCA t-shirts, and Nuero Tech stationary)
At the end of the day, some of the girls went to individual speakers and told them how inspired they were.
Biographies of invited Speakers
Mrs. Thandi Mbvundula
Mrs. Thandi Mbvundula has been in the field of ICT for about 34 years. Working with NICO Tech and then going on to open her own IT centred business. Her business was the first commercial email chain service in Malawi and it just so happened to be the first of its kind in Africa. She went on to work for ICT businesses outside the country. Mrs. Mbvundula is one of the few people with her technical skill set in Malawi. And along with all this, she is also a mother.
She spoke about her journey in ICT. Telling the girls about being in the Malawian male dominated field and how she navigated her way through it. Her discussion prompted the girls to ask her how she was able to balance her career and being a mother. To which she opened up about being a mother of twins and that she made it a point to be there for her children, sometimes forcing her to work odd hours after putting her children to bed. The girls also asked which subjects she took in high school.
Macheza of Dibs Africa Ltd.
Macheza (26) is co-founder Dibs Africa Ltd. Established in 2013. A Malawian based firm that develops systems, apps, and websites. A young, charismatic entrepreneur with a passion and belief that young people in Malawi can apply themselves to make the country and their own lives better. He has worked with people inside and outside of Malawi as a result of his ideas and business. He spoke about young people who changed the world with technology.
He shared the stories of the Nigerian high school girls who made a generator that ran on urine. Then stories of Miss Zhang and Miss Wenger who both worked on remarkable solutions for cancer while they were in high school. Macheza then brought his talk closer home by speaking about William Kamkwamba (the boy who harnessed the wind). He then, finally, put the girls on the spot.
Asking them to write down their ideas, no matter how strange (and yes, some really strange ones came in). Eight of the best ideas were chosen and read out, the ones with those ideas were given “Girls in ICT” t-shirts.
Neuro Tech Team:
Kulukaya Sadiki & Misha
These two young ladies took the opportunity to share their experiences in the field of ICT at an ICT firm in Malawi, and how they got to where they are now. They also shared on the fact that nobody really tells women just how hard they have to work to gain the respect of their peers, get work done and still look like a lady at the end of the day.
Eric & Dean
These young men allowed the girls to talk, doing a quick Q&A Session. They put themselves in the line of fire, seeing as they really did not know what kinds of questions would come up, or lack of questions. However, once the girls realized that there was a prize for anyone who asked a question, they asked away. The girls asked about the best courses to take, the best certifications to pursue, the best schools to go to, and which is the best specialty to take. Each of the questions was answered with no harm to the boys.
Mr. Kasambara (Principal, St. Patrick’s)
Finally, Mr. Kasambara spoke out, saying that he was so inspired that he wanted to become a woman. Mrs. Mbvundula in particular.
The concept of the Girls in ICT event has sparked interest in the participating organisations and individuals. Even as the girls were dismissed, talk was already underway about how to take Girls in ICT to different schools within Blantyre (to begin with)
The idea is to plant a Girls in ICT club in each of the participating schools. This club would have a mentor assigned to it and the girls will work on an idea together and then their project will be making that idea a reality, with their mentor supervising and coming in to check on them and work with them on this project. And finally on the following World ICT Day all the Girls in ICT clubs from the different schools would come together at one venue and present their projects.