Tech Needs Girls: Programme for Sustainable Economic Development
German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Adolescents, Coding, Digital literacy, Technical and vocational education and training (TVET), Skills development, Women
Advocacy and coalition-building, Career counselling and professional development, Formal education and school contexts, Non-formal education and extracurricular contexts, Prizes, competitions and special events, Role models and mentoring
In Ghana, a formidable gender gap exists in internet access, digital skills and online rights. To speak freely and privately online, women have to face many barriers that include high costs, lack of knowledge and limited relevant content, as well as social and legal obstacles.
Although internet access is expanding, there is a persistent digital gender gap. As reported by the World Wide Web Foundation, less than 20% of Ghanaian women have access to the internet. Action is required to prevent women from being left behind in an increasingly interconnected world. Providing training to girls and women in information and communication technology (ICT) and encouraging the use of technologies can increase women’s participation in Ghana’s digital transformation process.
In the framework of Germany’s G20 presidency in 2017, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) launched the #eSkills4Girls initiative. The initiative focuses on tackling the existing gender digital divide, in particular within low income and developing countries. It aims to globally increase the access of women and girls in the digital world and to boost relevant education and employment opportunities.
As part of the #eSkills4Girls initiative, the Tech Needs Girls project began in June 2018 and ended in 2019. The project focused on increasing the access of Ghanaian girls and women to digital skills and professions, with a special focus on girls from vulnerable communities. Girls and young women benefited from vocational training in digital trades such as coding and computer software designing.
After an initial research period, a kick-off and planning workshop in Accra with more than 70 participants from all over the country was conducted. Project areas included six regions: Ashanti Region, the Eastern Region, Greater Accra, the Northern Region, the Volta Region, and the Western Region.
Tech Needs Girls aims to promote access for Ghanaian girls and women to digital professions through ICT-related trainings. It worked to improve the image of ICT occupations among girls and women and foster ICT-related business development. The following activities were implemented to achieve these goals:
Development of formal, competency-based ICT-related training courses especially for girls and young women
Capacity development of six Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) providers (within one school in each project region) to prepare for the implementation of the developed ICT courses
Implementation of non-formal ICT training courses in cooperation with local non-governmental organizations to enhance information technology (IT) literacy, particularly among girls and young women
Implementation of awareness and image campaigns
Promotion of employment opportunities through entrepreneurship trainings, start-up incubation, mentoring programmes and/or ideas competitions
The project builds on the experiences and achievements of a development partnership with the private sector “Female Professionals in Electronics” currently implemented in Ghana by the German agency for international cooperation (GIZ) on behalf of BMZ, in cooperation with the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and SAMSUNG. Other stakeholders and partners are the Programme for Sustainable Economic Development, Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, along with private sector partners and non-government organizations.
The project supported four TVET schools with capacity development to implement the electronic courses. In addition, and following a cooperative approach, girls and women have also been receiving practical lessons in marketing and maintenance and repair during workplace trainings. In cooperation with the Ghanaian Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, curricula and material were developed and various sensitization campaigns have been implemented to encourage young Ghanaian women to take up traditionally male-dominated trades.
Digital literacy training was provided to 150 self-employed women in the informal sector. Under the Bridging the Digital Gender Divide for Future of Jobs in Africa (Bridge the Gap), 90 young women were trained and 34 of them (from 17 start-ups) were supported through incubation. FLAB (A Female Tech Incubator) in cooperation with Innohub trained and supported 20 early stage start-ups and entrepreneurs, with a minimum of 50% female participation.
In the Volta region, the training of trainer approach was used to provide business development support to women-led start-ups. This led to the training of six trainers at two local hubs, and another 30 entrepreneurs from 15 start-ups. In Accra, 200 junior and senior high school students were reached through an awareness-raising event on International Women’s Day at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre. In Kumasi, 150 to 200 female junior high school students were sensitized through outreach focused on awareness raising.
In most parts of rural Ghana, people are still in need of basic digital literacy training (in local languages) and basic access to the internet. More needs to be done.
During the Tech Needs Girls project, the needs of the target group were miscalculated. There was tension between (a) choosing a target group that already fulfilled many preconditions for quick impact or (b) leaving no one behind.
Training measures need to be designed more carefully and with more resources, adjusting to the needs of participants (e.g. money for transportation, translation in local languages, and other needs).
The quantitative and qualitative findings of the project showed the importance of remaining user-centric and adapting the intervention to girls and women.
As with all training interventions, sustainability remains a problem. A training of trainers approach was implemented so that skills development could continue beyond GIZ’s involvement.
EQUALS Global Partnership. 2019. I’d blush if I could: Closing gender divides in digital skills through education. Paris: UNESCO.
EQUALS Research Group. 2018. Taking stock: Data and evidence on gender equality in digital access, skills and leadership. Preliminary findings of a review by the EQUALS research group. Geneva: International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
G20 Germany. 2017. Annex to G20 Leaders Declaration: G20 Inititiative “#eSkillsforGirls”. Hamburg, Germany: G20 Germany, BMZ.
UNESCO. 2017. Cracking the code: Girls' and women's education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Paris: UNESCO.
World Economic Forum (WEF). 2020. The 2019 Global gender report. Geneva: WEF.
World Wide Web Foundation. 2016. Women’s rights online. Report card Ghana. Geneva: World Wide Web Foundation.