Cybersafe Foundation Graduates 2400 in Cohort 1 DigiGirls Programme in Partnership with UK Govt
CyberSafe Foundation, Africa’s leading non-Governmental organization in the Digital Development space, has graduated the first Cohort of the DigiGirls training programme in partnership with the United Kingdom (UK) government.
In her remarks at the DigiGirls Graduation and Stakeholders Workshop on International Women’s Day (IWD 2022), Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, congratulated the DigiGirls programme participants.
“I’ve been lucky to have visited the programme twice – including for the launch three months ago. It’s been great to see what has been achieved during this short time”.
Why UK Government supports DigiGirls – Laing
She said that UK supports Nigeria in its bold ambition to create 100 million jobs in 10 years and believes that the Digital Economy can play a major part in unlocking this.
“Improving girls’ access to education is a key part of the UK’s G7 Presidency and is at the heart of global efforts to build back better from the pandemic. That is why we are pleased to be here today at the graduation of the first cohort of 2400 women and girls who benefited from the Digi-Girls project.
“We are also delighted that, as announced last month by the UK’s Minister for Africa, during her visit to Nigeria, we are able to expand this project to directly benefit an additional 4000 women, and reach a further 10,000 women through the train the trainer approach.
“We believe that programmes will help in addressing the digital inequality in Nigeria – that currently holds a 15% gender gap against women.
International Women’s Day:
She also gave her reflections on the International Women’s Day, stressing that “Women’s rights are human rights, enshrined in conventions that the UK government supports strongly.
“When we challenge discrimination and gender inequality, such as the digital gender divide in Nigeria and many places around the world, we #breakthebias for everyone to benefit.
“COVID-19 has led to the reversal of hard-fought progress: women have been hardest hit economically; we are witnessing a global surge in gender-based violence; and millions of girls estimated to be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation. Millions of adolescent girls may never return to school.
“Women and girls are also disproportionately impacted by climate change, natural disasters and conflict because they exacerbate existing inequality and barriers in accessing services and support.
“Yet women are critical front-line responders when crisis hits, and are crucial voices in decision making processes – if given the space to be heard. The participation of civil society groups, including women’s organisations, makes a peace agreement 64% less likely to fail, and we know that the benefit of reducing conflict in other countries is felt in many other countries of the world.
“This International Women’s Day we celebrate the UK’s work to champion gender equality and our heightened ambition to make more progress than ever. That’s why we are here today for the graduation of the first cohort of the DigiGirls in Nigeria, a project funded through the UK Government’s Digital Access Programme.
Catriona Laing, thanked the implementing partners – the CyberSafe Foundation led by Confidence Staveley, and the great mentors and representatives of the tech sector present at the graduation ceremony – for their excellent work so far and for continuing to champion inclusive digital development in Nigeria.
“And on behalf of the FCDO, I congratulate all the 2400 women and girls of the DigiGirls project graduating today and also wish all the stakeholders present, a successful deliberation on closing the digital gender divide in Nigeria”, the HC said.
The Training in Perspective:
Confidence Staveley, the founder of CyberSafe Foundation, described the DigiGirls programme as a digital skills empowerment platform, funded by the UK Government’s Digital Access Program and currently designed to equip 2000+ women and girls aged 15-40 years old with in-demand basic to intermediary employable digital skills.
“This program has three key pillars, training, mentorship and internship.
“These employable digital skills will drive positive livelihood outcomes for themselves and their families, improve employment prospects, encourage digital entrepreneurship in women and girls, and generally provide marginalized females in underserved communities with the skills needed to develop successful careers in today’s digital economy.
“With 2000+ beneficiaries’ resident in all the states across Nigeria, and the FCT, this purpose- built female focused program was able to achieve resounding success owing to a handful of strategic elements.
Speaking on the ‘Learning Process’ via Community platforms, she said that the 2400 participants participated in Peer Learning Groups by leveraging WhatsApp as a platform. “This is every beneficiary’s first community and their first contact with other beneficiaries like themselves.
“Led by a Success Advisor, each peer learning group comprises 120 DigiGirls from different states. This peer group system played a major role in keeping our beneficiaries motivated and learning against all odds.
“States Hangout”; With virtual participants in every state in Nigeria, these independently organized hangouts were created to bring together participants in each state to interact with each other, build connections and relationships within our community.
“Participants in each state met up at least one weekend for an afternoon of interaction and fun. This event helped to create bonds, a sense of community and expand the network of our beneficiaries.
States Hangout: According to her, this element of DigiGirls was a huge success as it inspired beneficiaries to create study groups with women in their states, meeting up to help each other with assignments and practice what they’ve been taught. Although not originally intended, the state hangouts had a direct impact on the academic performance of our beneficiaries.
TechEconomy.ng gathered that the women and girls took lessons and passed through Success Advisors; also known as virtual assistants, this led the peer learning groups and acted as a first point of contact for the beneficiaries and a feedback channel for Cybersafe Foundation.
They also participated in CV Writing and Linkedin Masterclass meant to equip the trainees with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in the employment pool.
The ‘Basic Digital Skills, Cybersecurity and Soft skills Training’ also equipped them with the basic skills necessary to forge ahead not only in the training but in the global digital economy.
Stakeholders at the event hailed program promoters as DigiGirls was undoubtedly a success despite a few setbacks encountered during the course of the program such as infrastructure as TechEconomy.ng gathered quite a number of beneficiaries did not own a laptop during the course of the training and found it difficult to gain access to one.
“This posed a challenge as we had some beneficiaries”, the founder of Cybersafe Foundation confirmed.
“In spite of the challenges faced, we are fully confident of the effectiveness of the training and quality of ladies graduating from the program. We believe that we have just churned out the next generation of female tech gurus, who will go ahead to not only make a living for themselves but also make Nigeria and the World at large proud”, she said.
The program which was launched in December 2021 will take in 4000 girls and women (15-40 years old) living in underserved communities in Nigeria, for the Cohort 2.