Part 2: GoGirlsICT Centering the Community

In an earlier post, we talked with Yine Yenki, co-founder and Mentorship Director at GoGirls ICT, an #ASKnet hub, in South Sudan, about gender and the importance of education for women. 

Another way in which GoGirls ICT is working to empower women and thereby strenghten their communities is by actively learning to involve women in processes that have traditionally excluded them. One example? GoGirlsICT noticed that while doing research on how to make DIY hand sanitizer, all of the chemistry experts were male. So they intentionally brought women in and involved them in the experimentation process and today, women are part of the production. This served as a good reminder that science is open to everyone and women can equally contribute. 

GoGirls notes that “in most of the schools that we engage with, we normally lack female science teachers to be part of our activities, but this year, together with the support of one of the schools, we identified one female teacher (a mathematics teacher) to be part of our program. GoGirls took steps to empower her with skills and self-confidence. Today, as long as the program involves the engagement of parents and communities, she is the facilitator. To us, such profound steps matter a lot because through our work, a female role models was brought to light. Female teachers have a profound effect on young girls, as they are the only women they regularly see and interact with within their reach.”

The presence of  many male teachers in schools often leads to female teachers stepping back or being drowned out during conversations. All these beliefs are a result of how society for centuries looked at women. The good news is, all this is changing.

A way that the community is also involved is that GoGirls ICT frames the new technologies, approaches, and customs as something that has always been part of the community. Science has been present in farming, traditional medicines, cooking, and growing for centuries. And in this way, women have always been at the heart of science.

But in order to grow women’s confidence as scientists, Yine notes that you both have to inspire them but also give women permission to ask others for help if needed and give constructive feedback. In order to gain the confidence to do work, the women must first be allowed to do and try. And make mistakes, and learn, and try again.