In many places around the world, gender inequality still exists to a large extent, which means that women and girls in these places do not have the same opportunities for intellectual, economic and social development. Often they have no opportunity at all.

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Solutions to these complex problems take time to come by, but 2021 can be argued as a breakthrough years in terms of gender-based interventions and evidence on outcomes. Mothers and grandmothers are key protagonists. Seeing as though they are the ones who educate children and teach them their beliefs, the educational quality a given environment can provide to a young developing mind could factor women and mothers in significant ways.

There have been organizations, NGOs and even individuals who independently seek to remove sexist and unequal beliefs from society, specifically places where they are prevalent and harmful. That organizations in Nigeria are teaching disadvantaged girls things like how to build robots and teaching careers in software engineering, supported by people such as Hadiza Garbati, who in addition to a full-time job helping to expand local gas infrastructures, helps mobilize STEM learning and advocacy among nigerian girls.

A report by AI Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris highlights a 15-year-old girl named Khadija Raibi’u, who is learning to build robots. Khadija has bigger dreams of designing and building complex machines to help save lives and protect the environment in the future. She comes from a very conservative society in northern Nigeria, where normalcy means that many girls of her age are conditioned to think about starting a family. Conversely, the teenager thinks this can wait. First thing for her is to become an engineer and be able to build devices that contribute to the development of her community and society at large.

Khadija’s classmates have learned a lot of things that have helped them to design and build projects, such as windmills and sustainable energy prototypes. It is important to note that all the girls are from poor families and would have no access to education otherwise. At the moment, the government supports the initiative, which the NGO leads, to give these girls and women the possibility to change their lives and realize their dreams. 

According to Hadiza, the goal is to create opportunities for women and girls to be able to defend themselves in a constantly updated world. She mentions the importance of practicing and teaching basic programming skills through fun activities. This initiative also aims to end all traditions that prevent girls and women from achieving their full potential. 

Robotics is not the only skill the students are learning. There are more than 70 girls and women learning computer science with the support of Microsoft. The teachers hope that the skills the girls acquire will enable them to achieve financial independence.

Lack of resources threatens to eliminate the program, so the NGOs are working to prevent this from happening so that the hopes of many girls and women who dream of changing their society and the world are not dashed.

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