We are on the cusp of observing two important international days: Earth Day and International Girls in ICT Day. While these dates are rarely commemorated together, there has never been a more timely pairing.
Many thought COVID-19 and its halt to international flights and congested traffic conditions would have slowed the rate of climate change, particularly with regards to carbon emissions from fossil fuels which are a major culprit of global warming. While there was a temporary 5.4% dip in CO2 emissions in 2020, by the end of 2021 global CO2 levels had already nearly rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. Research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted irreversible changes made to our world and strongly urged us all to take drastic action now to mitigate the deleterious effects that increasing temperatures will have on our ecosystems and way of life.
There are a number of female innovators working to meaningfully address the climate crisis, and the vast majority intersect with technology. These eight female entrepreneurs – from using deep learning and computer visioning models to enable firefighters to respond to developing wildfires in real time to transforming CO2 emissions into useful chemicals that can address nearly 10% of global emissions – are utilising their tech skills in service of the environment.
There is also a burgeoning group of young female trailblazers joining their ranks with creative uses of technology to promote environmentally-friendly behaviours and practices. At 15 years old, Nadine Abdelaziz created Water Treasury – an app that monitors water consumption and educates uses on water-saving habits. Three 17-year-olds – Debi Ahitov, Irmak Kaşıkcı and Dafne Sarfati – created Tap Tap Trees to raise awareness about reforestation and improve air quality efforts.
These are all promising developments, but given the severity and diversity of critical climate-related issues facing us we need all of our talent to have skillsets that will maximise the opportunities to create change in urgent and complex spaces such as the environment. Given the vast underrepresentation of women in STEM degrees and careers, it is imperative that we focus our attention on ensuring girls have equal levels of access and support to learn digital skills as their male counterparts.
At TWF, we know understanding and applying technology is critical to all areas of our future. This is why we have run our Girls Go Tech Programme for secondary school girls since 2015, then expanding the beneficiaries to upper primary school girls and their parents through our Digital Literacy Programme in 2019. Both aim to equip underprivileged girls with the necessary tech skills they need to thrive. We also know simply teaching tech skills is not sufficient to ensure long-term interest. This is why our curriculum is enriched with hands-on experiences such as company visits and sharing from senior female leaders in tech as well as interschool competitions where participants apply their skills to address real world problems.
We are confident – with continued support and exposure to opportunities – these girls and others like them will be building a more equal and sustainable future. Join us in supporting our future generation of changemakers and innovators.
Get in touch at Fiona.Nott@twfhk.org.