Monday, October 7, 2019

In Rural Kyrgyzstan, Coding Caravan Encourages Girls’ Leadership and Entrepreneurship

kyrgyzstan girls project computers coding, kyrgyzstan small group art tours
Participants of the coding caravan in rural Kyrgyzstan. Photo: Mirdan Akinov
In rural Kyrgyzstan, the first ever Technovation Coding Caravan for girls has taught more than 600 girls the basics of computer programming. Launched in Talas Province, the caravan reached Issyk-Kul, Naryn, Jalal-Abad, Batken, and Osh provinces this spring.

"I used to think that only men can code and become a programmer. Now I want to study programming, pursue my career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)," said Erkinai Omurzakova, a participant from Jalal-Abad Province.

Omurzakova and the other girls aged 10-18 practised prototyping mobile applications, and working in teams, learned to conduct marketing research, write business plans, make videos and presentations and discussed solving socioeconomic problems of Kyrgyzstan through technology.

"I always wanted to become a programmer, but others used to tell me that this career is not for me," said Alina Baktybekova, a participant from Issyk-Kul Province. "After participating in the training, all of my doubts and fears disappeared. I’ve decided to follow my dream!"

The caravan inspired rural girls to participate at the annual Technovation Challenge, the world’s largest global tech entrepreneurship competition for girls, which will take place in 2020. The coding caravan, supported by UN Women, offers girls around the world an opportunity to learn the necessary skills to emerge as tech entrepreneurs and leaders.

kyrgyzstan girls project computers coding, kyrgyzstan small group art tours
Coding Caravan participants during a session on the
development of a website, Talas, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: Mirdan Akinov
"I grew up in Talas Province. The fact that I myself came from a rural area made girls believe in themselves even more," says Ainura Sagyn, a UN Women partner and Technovation Regional Ambassador.

She is also one of the top women in tech in the region and founder of WasteToWealth, an online platform to encourage re-use of recyclable waste. "The Technovation Coding Caravan is just a small seed which, I hope, will lead to empowerment of hundreds of rural girls pursuing careers in STEM."

"Unfortunately, in Kyrgyzstan and all over the world there is a low representation of women in STEM," said Ulziisuren Jamsran, Representative of UN Women in Kyrgyzstan. "UN Women promotes empowerment of women and girls, especially those who have limited access and resources, to realize themselves in STEM”.

Technovation Coding Caravan for girls is led by the UN Women partner Technovation with support of the UN Women Kyrgyzstan Country Office, US Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic, and a network of the top talent in business, design, and technology in the world – TopTal.

This article was first published 8 August 2019 on UNWomen. 

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kyrgyzstan girls project computers coding, kyrgyzstan small group art tours
In Osh, Kyrgyzstan, Coding Caravan participants learn and practice coding skills using the programming language Scratch. Photo: Aikanysh Kerimkulova