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Empowering the next generation of techwomen

In a world where being tech savvy is in vogue, depending on what your perception of being ‘tech savvy’ is, of course, one can’t help but marvel at woman extraordinaire, Baratang Miya.

Baratang is the founder of Girl Hype Coders, a Non Profit Organization that teaches girls how to code. As their slogan goes, We upskill and reskill women with Tech skills. Founded in 2002, Girl Hype addresses the issue of unequal access to opportunities for South African girls. They do this through after school clubs and camps.

Baratang had taught herself how to code and began helping young women to develop technical competencies and social skills needed to excel in the 21st century market. She is a firm believer in promoting women’s and girl’s education, especially coding skills. She holds a post graduate diploma in marketing management and a Bachelor of Social Sciences, both from UCT.

The program was initially designed as a week-long camp for girls between the ages of 10 and 18, but has since developed to cater for girls in primary school, secondary school and those who are unemployed. It is delivered in various formats, from a two-day workshop to a year-long program.

Girl Hype is committed to ensuring that the next generation of South African girls have a better chance of achieving their full potential. “We teach them to code as a means to an end, which is employment and entrepreneurship”, Baratang says.

Since the organization is an NPO, its greatest challenge is funding. Just last year, they were trying to set up a full time women coding school, but could not find an investment partner. Another challenge is convincing the girls that learning to code will change their lives. This is proving to be difficult because many of the girl’s parents do not know what coding is.

In many of the communities where the organization works, there is no ICT infrastructure and in most circumstances where infrastructure is available, it is underutilized, or programs and competent teachers are not available. This renders the girls unexposed to the tech world and in addition to this, they lack role-models.

Girls are taught to present their work in public and in front of the camera. Through this practice they learn that the world values their skills and consequently learn to value themselves.

When a girl learns to code, through Girl hype, she learns to find creative solutions to problems.

Girl Hype, through their technovation results, have proven that 90% of participants reported that they will consider careers in technology and science. Most of their girls are employed in the technology field. One such lady is Anita, who is now working at Dell as an intern after completing her Matric last year.

A long-term goal for Girl Hype as an NPO, is to increase the impact on young African girls by training the youth and mentors as peer educators; partner with global and local organizations to expand growth. The organization also plans to provide content, training and analytics for the improvement of girls’ lives and education in Africa.

All of this will be achieved through building a platform and community of educators, parents and mentors who will work and engage directly with these girls and help them with the obstacles they face. Baratang added that the more girls they teach to read, write and participate in technology, the more they will use it to find solutions that will impact the transformation of women’s lives economically, politically and socially.

To get involved as a volunteer, contributor or benefactor, visit their website on www.girlhype.co.za

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