Dare to do mighty things
It was a sunny September morning when my UNICEF colleague Lamija first called me to discuss an idea she and another colleague had. The Under30 challenge in the UN House was ongoing and I was nothing close to participation. That is, until the call. So, we sat in the cafeteria and Lamija started talking about the IT sector, the lack of confidence among girls when it comes to pursuing a career in IT, the high unemployment rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina… As she talked, I was visualizing more girls and women in technology. It made perfect sense. And I was already on board. My work with UN Women focuses mainly on Communications, but I strongly believe in the entity’s mandate and gender mainstreaming. I’d always wanted to be a part of some kind of revolution, so why not start a digital one?
A bunch of emails and a few after-work meetings later, we submitted our one-pager that focused on 3 objectives: raising awareness among girls and coding, assessing the attitudes of Bosnian youth about coding and enhancing the girls’ skills to empower them to pursue a career in IT. We were so ambitious, but we knew we could make it! And so we did! We were granted 5000$ from UNDP to start working on what was supposed to be a 6-months pilot initiative. Shortly after that, the ITGirls website was launched and we started working on our first objective — raising awareness. Every day we were discovering something new — not just about programming, but about the IT industry and gender gaps. As our audience grew, we were more and more dedicated to our aim — bring girls to IT. The revolution was ours, the girls were writing to us!
Today, almost two years after the idea was born, we held not one but eleven coding camps for girls with the support of three UN agencies — UNDP, UNICEF and UN Women. The team grew bigger — with nine of us volunteering to promote the idea and organize the events, and four IT trainers who work hard to teach girls HTML and CSS.
And now two of us are coming to UNLEASH Lab in Denmark! Our idea perfectly sums up quite a number of Sustainable Development Goals — it tackles education, innovation, economic growth, gender equality and reducing inequalities. We would love to hear about similar experiences from around the world and to learn from like-minded people.
The project we envisioned is becoming everything we dreamed of. We want our initiative to grow bigger and better. We want the digital revolution to reach every girl in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And we are sure we’ll make it.