Empowering Girls in Tech: Lessons from Cambodia's Sisters of Code
Last week at the Internet Governance Forum 2023 (https://intgovforum.org/en) in Kyoto, Natalja Rodionova, founder of Cambodia's Sisters of Code, delivered an inspiring lightning talk about the work of the first female coding club in the country. Her presentation, "Breaking Barriers: Empowering Girls Through the First Female Coding Club in Cambodia," aimed to ignite conversations about establishing and supporting similar initiatives globally.
Sisters of Code provides coding education, technology training, and career mentoring to girls in Cambodia. As the first female coding club in the country, it is empowering girls and increasing female representation in the tech industry.
Rodionova explained how Sisters of Code was able to expand nationally through an Ambassadors model. Young female students are trained to establish coding clubs in their own communities, helping spread Sisters of Code to 16 provinces so far. This method of training trainers creates a scalable model for growth.
The talk also addressed the global relevance of the gender divide issue. Rodionova emphasized that the lack of female representation in tech is not unique to Cambodia, but a worldwide challenge. By sharing the Sisters of Code example, she hopes to inspire similar empowering actions and clubs for girls in technology across countries.
Rodionova's presentation explored the club's impact and the challenges faced in launching this pioneering program. A key takeaway was the practical model Sisters of Code provides for creating after-school coding clubs to empower girls in tech. This approach can be replicated globally to address the gender gap.
She issued a call to action for stakeholders: companies, organizations, governments, and individuals to explore opportunities to establish and fund female coding clubs in their communities. Citing Sisters of Code's success, she argued we can work together to create a more diverse, equitable tech industry by providing girls access and education.
During the Q&A, Rodionova explained how digital safety is taught from the start in their curriculum. She confirmed the Sisters of Code methodology can be successfully adapted to empower girls in tech globally.
Attendees left the talk inspired to bring similar clubs to their countries. Rodionova closed by reminding that by supporting girls through programs like Sisters of Code, we can achieve an inclusive tech sector where women have equal opportunities to shape our digital future.