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Zambian Women Launch Crowdsourcing Project to Map All African Women in Technology Intiatives

I saw this on AWID (http://www.awid.org/News-Analysis/Announcements2/Zambian-Women-Launch-Am...) and knew that it would be of interest to so many of the women here on PulseWire!

Using the power of crowdsourcing & social-networking Zambia's Women in Technology organisation Asikana Network is creating the world's first comprehensive map of Africa's Women in Technology organisations, projects and initiatives.

Lusaka's http://asikananetwork.org/ organises mentoring, training, events and meet-ups for women trying to break into the male-dominated world of ICT in Zambia.

“It's extremely difficult for females in ICT to land their dream ICT jobs because it is still considered a male dominated field“, says Ella Mbewe, co-founder of the Asikana Network.

“To be successful women have to work twice as hard and be extremely resilient. We formed the Asikana Network for women facing these challenges to come together to support one another. We aim to change perceptions and behavior towards women in ICT and to level the playing field for those young women who come behind us. Hopefully they will not have to face the same obstacles and we will be able to help them to succeed.”

The Asikana Network receives support and draws strength from the example of Women in Technology organisations in other countries, including http://akirachix.com/ in Kenya and http://witug.wordpress.com/ in Uganda and is housed at Bongohive http://www.bongohive.com, Zambia’s Technology & Innovation Hub.

To build the network of mutual support between Africa's Women in Technology organisations the Asikana Network has launched an initiative project to identify as many sister organisations in Africa as possible. Using Ushahidi CrowdMap http://ushahidi.com/products/crowdmap (an online mapping platform developed by Kenyans) they will use social media to crowdsource and map the world's most comprehensive database of African Women in Technology initiatives.

The success of high-profile women in technology projects like mFarm, http://mfarm.co.ke/, iCow, http://www.icow.co.ke/, and the active role played by organisations such as AkiraChix, http://akirachix.com/, means that in Kenya the position of women in technology has begun to improve. By strengthening their sister organisations in other African countries and by enabling them to network effectively with each other Asikana intends to contribute to improving the position of Women in Tech across the African continent.

“In the few short days since the mapping project went live the crowd has already identified 16 different Women in Technology organisations”, says Chisenga Muyoya co-Founder of Asikana Network, “Already we are strengthened by learning from the activities of other Women in Tech organisations and the innovative ways that they are run. If, with the help of technology journalists, we are successful in getting the message out there, we can expect to map many centers within this next week and reach our goal of mapping over 50 women in tech initiatives by the end of the month”.

Visit the Africa Women in Technology website to see the map here: https://womentechafrica.crowdmap.com

  • By clicking on the red dots on the map of Africa, visitors to the website can discover more information about individual technology hubs that have already been mapped.
  • By filling in a simple form visitors to the website can inform Asikana of a new Women in Tech initiative to add to the map. As co-founder Regina Mtonga says “Put your Women in Tech project on the map by clicking on 'Submit a Report' and enter the contact details of any initiative missing from the map.”

“This is a very positive story about Africa that directly contrasts the negative stereo-typing of Africa as a continent dominated by poverty, corruption and hopelessness. The technology sector is booming in Africa and we want women's participation to be recognised and valued”, Regina Mtonga, co-Founder, Asikana Network.

Background:
The Asikana Network was founded one year ago by three Zambian women working in the ICT sector in Lasaka:

Photos: Asikana Network (http://asikananetwork.org/?attachment_id=21)

Asikana Network was formed by women members of BongoHive (Lusaka's Technology & Innovation Hub). Earlier this year BongoHive ran a highly successful on-line mapping of Africa's Tech Hubs that has, so far, identified and mapped 72 tech hubs, a story that has been covered by Wired, BBC, Arstechnica, TechRadar, AlJazeera and others.

Both the Tech Hubs and Women in Tech crowdmap initiatives have been organised in association with ICT4D veteran Tony Roberts, @phat_controller on Twitter.

Why did Asikana Network launch this intiative?
Quotes from Ella Mbewe:
“We strongly suspect that there are many other Women in Tech organisations in Africa, where women are also coming together to tackle similar issues to those faced by the women in Asikana Network. We wanted to use this innovative method to reach out to them and share learning and experience with them”.

“There are a few organisations, like AkiraChix in Kenya, that have earned well-deserved acclaim, but we also suspect that there are many more out there that are unheard of and do not yet enjoy the same level of public awareness and support. We want to help them to raise their profile. We want to know more about their successes and challenges. We want to collaborate with them as peers.

“We know from personal experience how mutually beneficial it has been to network with individual women here in Lusaka. Now we want to reap the same benefits by networking at the pan-African level with Women in Tech initiatives across the continent”, commented Ella.

Why the mapping initiative specifically?
Quotes from Chisenga Muyoya:
“We think that crowd-mapping is the perfect way to make visible the wealth of women's talent and enterprise springing up all across Africa.

“No one has done it before. We wanted to see if it could be done."

“We thought that we would use crowdsourcing to uncover the full extent of women's experience and entrepreneurship that exists across the continent.

"What better method to discover and share this information openly than by using the Ushahidi software built by women and men of Kenya. @Lkamua @afromusing & @kenyapundit were amongst the founders and lead developers of Ushahidi."

We want to Women in Tech organisations out there to put themselves on the map, make themselves visible and help us to build a supportive and strong community of Africa Women in Technology.

Media Contact: Regina Mtonga
Co-Founder Asikana Network
Mobile: +260 977534644
Skype: regina.mtonga
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Mukonda_Regina
Email: rgnmtonga@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Reginamukondamtonga

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