The Anita Borg Change Agent Award recognizes three experienced women from around the world whose work goes to the heart of the Anita Borg Institute’s mission: to increase the impact of women on all aspects of technology, and to increase the positive impact of technology on the world’s women. These three women are funded to attend the Grace Hopper Conference, and have the chance to both speak to the conference attendees, but also meet with other leaders who attend.
Leaders from Brazil, Turkey, India, Georgia (the country not the state) have attended. Many of these leaders have taken ideas back to their country, and I remain in touch with many of them today.
This year, for the first time, all of the three Change Agent Award Winners at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing were from Africa. One was from Kenya and two were from Nigeria. All three have a great deal in common. They share a similar focus, training women in their countries on how to use technology. We often talk at the Anita Borg Institute about increasing the impact women have on technology but equally important is the impact that technology can have on the world’s women. The work our Change Agents are doing is literally improving the lives of women by giving them access to technology which is enabling them to find careers, establish businesses and connect with other women to create support networks. In one case their work has been shown to reduce divorces in a region because the women are now bringing incomes into their homes. Between them they have positively impacted the lives of 1000’s of women.
Meet the 2009 Anita Borg Change Agent Award Winners
Halima Ibrahim, from Nigeria is the Director of Mu’assassatul Mar’aatus Saliha Women’s Skill Acquisition Centre. The center provides ICT & Handcrafts Skills Training for underprivileged women.
Halima has since single handedly driven change in Bauchi and other communities in the North East of Nigeria by empowering underprivileged women and girls. Her initiative, the Mu’assassatul
Acquisition Centre, is the biggest initiative that has emerged from the Community Technology Skills
Program in Nigeria over the last three years. It has so far empowered over a 1000 other women in ICT
and Handcraft skills whilst fostering local innovation and creating jobs and opportunities for people.
Anne Ikiara-Kabaara, from Kenya, is the General Manager of Nairobits Trust, an organization dealing with youth/women empowerment through ICT, where she also serves as a gender and HIV/AIDS focal person. Anne has been with Nairobits for six years. Within this time, hundreds of women/girls from non formal settlements have gained ICT skills that have improved their lives economically, socially, culturally and politically. Most notable is the entry of women/ girls from disadvantaged communities to the formal ICT economy. Through her leadership, the Nairobits concept has grown in Kenya and has been replicated in the non formal settlements of Nairobi with five training and information centers being opened. Through the training and exposure of these girls/women to ICT, lives of other women in their localities have significantly improved and positive ripple effects are being felt in these localities.
Oreoluwa Somolu, from Nigeria, is the Executive Director of the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC), a non-profit based in Nigeria working to encourage Nigerian women to use technology to empower themselves socially and economically. W.TEC’s work is carried out through projects which build technology skills among women, technology literacy workshops, research, career counseling and mentoring. Notable among these is the Girls Technology Camp, which seeks to help girls develop an early interest in computers and other information and communication technology.