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She Skills starts tech camps to empower women

January 21, 2017

KARACHI: SheSkills is launching the first of what it hopes to be many 'digital skills boot camps' aimed at to train women. Women, looking to boost their digital skills, have difficult time in Pakistan. There’s a lack of camps that teach coding, digital marketing and product design. Some women are not even allowed to attend mixed classes or venture too far from home.

Of course, there’s an option of online learning, but many prefer a classroom environment, which gives the necessary impetus to stay on course.

The driving force behind the project is Saad Hamid, a self-described digital evangelist, who has an influence in Pakistan’s tech community.

“The concept of SheSkills came during a recent storytelling workshop which we conducted exclusively for women,” Hamid says. “At the end of it we were overwhelmed with requests from girls who wanted to learn skills like coding, digital marketing and design.”

Hamid says one of the reasons they’re embarking on this initiative is an overall drive to get more women into tech field. Not only is that better for diversity and output, it will also help participants pursue freelance work and entrepreneurial endeavours.

A study conducted by the Pakistan Software Houses Association estimated that in 2012, women made up only 14 percent of the tech industry in the country. There are even fewer in senior management positions.

“Other than the stats, it’s also something I’m extremely passionate about,” he said.

The programme has been developed with assistance from Ladies Learning Code and Women Techmakers. It’s open to women across ages and backgrounds looking to boost digital skills. It’s a six-week long boot camp, with a blend of online and offline learning paradigms.

There will be physical classes once a week, in the capital city of Islamabad, but also daily activities and assignments as homework.