|Sept - Dec 2016|
|Global Digital Innovation|
Emi Maj is among the new generation of digital pioneers. Her latest passion, connecting people through technology, may sound like a project designed for an advanced highly developed country and it probably is. But the Polish former graphics designer has exported her desire for sharing know-how to the shores of Mozambique.
A struggling economy and still trying to rebuild its infrastructure Mozambique is an unlikely venue to bring the benefits of advanced technological skills. It is a country that needs basic development and with her colleagues, Emi, in a small but very significant way, wants to contribute to change in that country.
Unsatisfied with her work only as a designer she decided to extend a bold Finish initiative into Poland. Called Rails Girls, this not-for-profit project is attracting enthusiastic sponsors and participants. But it is these young thinkers and activists who believe that their commitment will effect change.
This is what they do: working with Webmuses, the group organises community events to create awareness that technology is also for women. And, it is this simple but daring notion that is slowly taking root around the world and challenging a male-dominated enclave.
Rails Girls aims at teaching programing to young people and focuses on girls while keeping the door open to young men. The severe chasm of the digital divide in Africa is well-documented but little, if any, attention is paid to solving problems. One of the problems if that the continent lacks organisations that are interested in enthusing young people to become programers.
Emi is one of the solutions and RailGirls is the project that can fill that worrying gap. After successfully implementing the Rails girls project in Poland, she felt confident about tackling the challenge in Mozambique. After her success with that venture, she seemed enamored with Africa. Her evident attraction for working on the continent bubbled over when she met lawyer Ayesha Dawood, who is also managing director of Digitalnfo.com, a website devoted to spreading relevant information about digital communications internationally.
Ayesha’s observations of the lack of resources available in South Africa for teaching young people about digital media led to her discovery of Rails Girls. Within days of her contact with the group, she met Emi, who fortuitously, was in Johannesburg after her Mozambican, Maputo, project.
That meeting at Wits Art Museum of two dynamic professionals committed to similar objectives snowballed and Ayesha and Emi were soon in purposeful engagement to roll out Rails Girls in Johannesburg. As an initiator and facilitator of the project in South Africa, Ayesha’s international experience at the United Nations and the World Health Organisation, among others, positions her for further success.
Entirely not-for-profit, this project demands nothing less than an extraordinary commitment to promoting digital media to young people. In this project, no one gets paid – not the organisers, not the coaches.
While the elements of coding are taught in a way that excites understanding, the aim is to inspire the young women participants.
Ayesha Dawood sees so much more in Rails Girls and other digital projects which Digitalnfo will be launching: it is also about creating awareness and encouraging young people to become digital inventors for the future. And Digitalnfo is looking for them.
Now, we hope Emi will take part (either from afar or if she travels here) in her next African adventure with Rails Girls Johannesburg.