Mastercard recently launched its first 2020 Girls4Tech programme in Kenya attended by 68 girls aged between nine and 12. Girls4Tech attendees will be encouraged to consider careers in science and technology through hands-on activities.
Though the country is currently ranked 109th out of 153 countries in the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report and women represent only a third of university students enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses, the growing demand for STEM skills in Kenya’s workforce means increased opportunities for women in future.
The hands-on, inquiry-based STEM program incorporates Mastercard’s deep expertise in payments technology and innovation. Mastercard employees serve as mentors and role models and guide participants through practical and fun exercises covering topics such as encryption, fraud detection, data analysis, digital convergence, cybersecurity and AI.
It also emphasizes important skills such as collaboration, creativity and communication to enable young girls to apply their technical knowledge to solve real-world challenges.
Ifeoma Dozie, Director, Marketing and Communications, Sub-Saharan Africa at Mastercard, says, “Through our Girls4Tech programme, we’re extending our commitment to the next generation of women leaders and developing a strong pipeline of talent for Kenya’s future economy, by encouraging girls to embrace the subjects that will prepare them for the workforce of tomorrow. We can decrease the shortage of critical skills, and strengthen women’s economic empowerment by shifting them from low-skilled and informal jobs to the stability of the formal economy, which will boost their earning potential.”
Inspiring young girls to build the skills they need in STEM is important, as it ensures that more women have a have a voice in the development of the products and services of the future. An estimated 60% of informal MSMEs in Kenya are owned by women and according to an IPSOS survey, 89% of African women are the decision-makers or co-decision-makers for household purchases. Given this spending power, it is critical to have women represented in the decision-making, engineering and innovation processes, so they are represented in the design of solutions that better meet their needs.
Since its launch in April 2014 in the United States, Girls4Tech has reached more than 500,000 girls in 28 countries. Mastercard has further committed to reach 1 million girls globally by 2025. Additional programmes will be rolled out to schools in Nairobi later this year.