DAR ES SALAAM– Jacqueline Msambila, a 24-year-old Tanzanian girl, woke up early in the morning determined to join other girls and women worldwide in marking the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Msambila, a second-year student of the University of Dar es Salaam pursuing a master’s of arts degree in ethics of governance and public service, marked the day by urging fellow girls and women in Tanzania to embrace science and technology in supporting the East African nation’s drive for a digital economy. 

Since the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is an annual observance marked on Feb. 11 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to promote the full, equal access and participation of females in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, Msambila feels that the big disparity between men and women, when it comes to knowledge on science and technology, can be bridged if women put more efforts and energy in acquiring the two disciplines.

And that determination pushed the young university student to join coding classes offered free of charge by the Launchpad Tanzania, a civil society organization that focuses on women and youth advancement programs, based in the port city of Dar es Salaam. 

Msambila is among 36 girls and women aged between 18 and 30 who are attending classes on coding, digital marketing and graphic design, among others, at the Launchpad Tanzania’s head offices in the Sinza suburb. 

“We want to unveil a story of these girls who receive this training and how it will increase their participation and bridge the digital gender divide by having more skilled Tanzanian women in the digital economy,” Loy Harold Jaffu, helpline manager for the Launchpad Tanzania, told Xinhua in an interview.

Jaffu said there are six girls or women in each class, adding that the organization’s goal is to train 36 girls or women during the program that started on Jan. 23 in which training courses last for five to nine weeks. 

“We need to increase the number of women participating in technology so as to fill the gap of the digital gender divide and have more Tanzanian women in the digital economy,” She said. 

Jaffu said from her experience, most women are interested in learning science and technology, but there is a myth in society that science is too hard for women, which is not true. 

She said to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, the Launchpad Tanzania has organized Tanzania Women and Technology Conference; the conference will be held in tandem with an exhibition on innovative and digital solutions by Tanzanian women.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. 

As she finished her class on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon, Msambila urged fellow girls and women to train in science and technology to be able to support the country’s drive for a digital economy. 

“Since women are half of the Tanzanian population, they have a strong influence to be the leading game changers in pushing for the digital economy,” she said with pride. – Xinhua