The Internet Society African Regional Bureau has worked with Network Operator Groups (NOGs) in Africa, providing financial and technical support to organize trainings and events at the local level. We recently shared many of their stories. There are also a number of NOGs that seek to attract women engineers to share knowledge and experience as well as to encourage young women to take up technology-related fields – which are largely perceived in the African region as “men only.” Here are their stories.
AfCHIX is a branch of the Africa Network Operator Group (AfNOG) and was formed in November 2004 by African women and for African women. The aim of AfChix is to help build a critical mass of computing skills among African women. It evolved from Linux Chix Africa, which was founded by Dorcas Muthoni and Ana Badimo, two great African women in computing. AfCHIX has held activities impacting over 25 African countries and which have inspired other women-focused NOGs to form such as TechCHIX and SenCHIX. It has held several face to face workshops over the years in several African countries including Malawi, Botswana, and Ghana. Its 2017 training in Gambia, attracted 30 women engineers. This 2017 training event was organized with the help of the Internet Society’s Gambia Chapter.
TechCHIX was formed in February of 2016 by a group of women from Arusha and Dar Es Salam, Tanzania in STEM and ICT fields. Its mission was to build technical skills among women engineers in Tanzania, and it has held 15 events since its formation, including a technical training workshop for 26 women in March of 2017, which was supported by the Internet Society. TechCHIX conducts its activities in both English and Kiswahili, and has visited more than 15 secondary schools in Tanzania to encourage young girls to study STEM fields. It faces sustainability challenges as most activities involve costs such as travel for its facilitators. TechCHIX has received support from TzNOG and the Internet Society and seeks to expand its sponsorship and member base in order to scale up activities.
SenCHIX has been active since 2013. It is based in Senegal, where it has conducted several actvities, mostly in French. SenCHIX was formed when the founding members realized that less than 25% of participants in technical courses in Senegal are women, and its main objective is to involve more women in all ICT fields there. It organizes at least two trainings per year which attract about 30 women. Sustainability is a challenge and funds come from membership fees and occasionally from sponsors. One of the main successes of TechCHIX was the organization a “Girls and Science Day,” during which more than 300 young girls were invited to learn more about science and ICT. Dr. Fanta Bouba, a founding member, shares that they intend to create more “Chix” groups at colleges, high schools and universities, to increase the number of women trainers in all ICT fields, and to have more women in ICT Governance. SenCHIX has received support from the Internet Society via access to online technical courses, which are available in English and French. It looks forward to having more support from the Internet Society and other organizations in the coming years to achieve its long term plan of chartering more CHIX centers at schools and developing ICT training kits for women organizations in Senegal.
These NOGs have succeeded in increasing STEM and ICT engagement for women in Africa. The Internet Society looks forward to hearing about the achievements of future women-led NOGs.
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Image credit: TechCHIX