Coding Camp for Libyan Women Boosts Learning and Entrepreneurship Skills

A field report published by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) highlighted a recent coding camp for young women organised by a partner organisation in Libya to produce hi-tech solutions to challenges brought about by the Coronavirus epidemic.

(LIBYA, 15 July 2021) – The report published by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) the coding camp for young women, or the Hackathon, was organised by the For You Libya Group (FYLG) in light of the ongoing conflict in Libya. The Hackathon “hosted a dozen participants from Tripoli who came up with an app to help combat gender-based violence, another to support children’s home schooling and a third to enable female entrepreneurs to market their products remotely.”

The report said that “despite high levels of education and widespread internet use”, women are still seriously under-represented in hi-tech in Libya. “Ministry of labour statistics show a far higher proportion of female ICT graduates seeking employment than men, although women are much less likely to actually find work in the sector”, said the IWPR.

A FYLG spokeswoman said: “The problem is not access to education, but many factors that affect women’s access to employment,” particularly conservative traditions which often limited women’s freedom to work in a number of fields.

She said that “in dealing with the conflict and the pandemic, technology is a tool that can contribute significantly to supporting women in local communities.”

“Technology can play an important role in the economic activity of young Libyan women, and as the sector grows, women’s access to economic power can grow, and equity in technology career opportunities can be of great value,” said the spokesperson. She added that “the technology industry is gaining credibility in the creation and sustainability of lucrative jobs for women.”.

APP TO HELP REDUCE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Saja, a 22-year-old computer graduate, said to IWPR that the repeated lockdowns and closures due to Covid19 have exacerbated domestic violence. The impact of the pandemic was the reason why she chose to work in a safe space where she could develop the idea of a mobile app that can help reduce violence against women in local communities.

She explained, “Many people are unaware of the meaning of violence as well as its types, so we tried to provide several definitions of violence. Also, in the event of violence, most people have no idea where they should go or who they can consult.”

The app that Saja is developing includes an interactive content that allows users to get legal advice and information on places such as police stations, that the victim can turn to. In addition, she said the app “included phone numbers that he or she can call in case of violence and the legal advisors who can deal with the situation.”

Her mobile app currently only covers the area of greater Tripoli, could Saja said it could be expanded in the future to include the whole country.

Many people are ignorant of the meaning of violence and its types, so we tried to provide several definitions of violence, and also in the event of violence, most people have no idea where they should go or who they can consult, so we included interactive content in the application about legal advice and places.”

Saja said the training she was receiving at the programme organised by the FYLG was “boosting her own skills and confidence.” “I learnt new coding languages that will help me work on several issues. The other thing that I liked during the training is that every participant was sharing ideas during the brainstorming and this was amazing. I discovered things in myself that I did not know before,” she added.

APP TO SUPPORT LEARNING IN CONFLICT SCENARIOS

The IWPR illustrated the case of 24-year old Abrar and how the epidemic had an impact on her education. Abrar explained that she was in the last year of her studies in IT at the University of Tripoli, but the suspension classes and study meant that that her graduation was postponed.

Therefore, Abrar designed an application to “support primary age children whose schooling had also been disrupted by repeated Covid-19 closures, as well as armed conflict.”

Abrar continued: “My dream is to introduce technology to education … to make children love the learning experience and help mothers to use engaging tools while educating their children.” She said technology could offer an easy to use education method that would not only help children learn, but also “enhance communication between mothers and their children.”

EMPOWERING WOMEN THROUGH BUSINESS ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The coding camp was the result of rapid impact assessment by FYLG with support from IWPR and Binda Consulting International (BCI) “that underlined the importance of economic empowerment for young women, especially in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.” The pandemic had clearly increased gender-based violence in

communities and parents needed support to education their children through the lockdown periods.

The article said that the FYLG had previously partnered with IWPR on an “Adventurous Investor” project to promote a culture of entrepreneurship among Libyan women. A third app, the Morena App, was therefore developed in the coding camp which focused on small-scale producers.

The Morena app aims to support businesswomen market and develop their products. The FYLG spokeswoman said, “If women in the community are provided with mentoring and practical experience, then technology companies will see the value these women have to offer and will be more likely to hire them. This impacts women at all levels, especially with the high rate of internet use in Libya.”

© ALMARSAD ENGLISH (2021)