I enjoy attending events. I really do. But when it’s an event that means something to me I enjoy it even more. I have to admit I was a little reluctant to attend the Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN) Tech 4D forum themed “Women leading through technology” because after a long Easter weekend I was eager to get back to work. Even the lure of Sheraton Hotel’s buffet was not strong enough #foodie but I went all the same.
The ladies handling the registration were a little off and this was already putting me off but I was like I’m here so I had better just enjoy myself.
I need to give a little background about WITIN and the Tech 4D forum.
WITIN provides networking, entrepreneurship and professional development opportunities for women and girls; as well as educate, inspire and equip them to pursue and retain careers in STEM while embracing the emerging tech market as inventors and innovators.
To find out more about WITIN please visit their website www.witin.org
Annual Tech4D Forum
The annual Forum on Technology for Development organized by WITIN explores current technological trends and needs of society, as it affects women.
The Forum was in two parts; the morning session for the girls and the afternoon session for the women.
I will be writing mainly about the morning session.
The morning session involved tech teams from different schools presenting apps they had designed to tackle problems encountered in their communities. Schools like Honeywell College, Vivian Fowler girls, International School Lagos, Princeton College Lagos, King David Model College, Our Lady of Nigeria Secondary School Delta state, Mastermind College and Doregos Private Academy all presented their apps. I must admit I was very impressed and I don’t get impressed easily. Some of these apps addressed things like Electricity bills, Entrepreneurship, Fashion and Style, Career decisions, Fitness and Diet, Tackling Depression, Safety and Transportation, Situation Reporting, Shopping, Nigerian Police, Menstrual cycles, the list goes on and on! I don’t know what I was doing when I was this age but I’m sure it involved boys … *winks.
Last year’s winners designed an app to tackle Traffic problems and they got a chance to attend the Technovation 2013 in San Fransisco USA. The delectable Honorable (Mrs) Abike Dabiri was there to present awards to last year’s winners and this year’s participants.
Mrs Nkemdilim Begho , MD Futuresoft gave a brief presentation to encourage the girls on pursuing their dreams in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) and she read a quote by Ray Bradbury that just blew my mind.
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
Mrs Abike Dabiri spoke briefly about making an impact on the lives of young women. She spoke passionately about the missing 200+ school girls in Borno and the killings in Nyanya, Abuja. She charged women to come together and get more involved in governance. “We need a Nigeria that will give girls a future. We need mothers who believe in the progress and security of our children” Mrs Dabiri said. Mrs Dabiri was at last year’s event and knew some of the girls on a one-on-one basis. Exchanging emails with them from time to time.
Even though I didn’t get my buffet, overall I left the event feeling richer. I left thinking about one of my favorite authors Malcolm Gladwell from his book “Outliers-the story of success”. He wrote about the effects of community on success.
“We have to appreciate the idea that the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are”.
The girls from the Tech4D forum are definitely on the right track.