The IT Academy STEP Cambodia management team was pleased to attend the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2023 in Kyoto, Japan. The IGF is a global multistakeholder forum that brings together governments, businesses, civil society, academia, and the technical community to discuss and develop public policy on issues related to the Internet.
This year's IGF was focused on a wide range of topics, including artificial intelligence (AI), regulations and policies, and gender inclusion and access to the internet worldwide.
As part of the IGF program, Natalja Rodionova, the founder of Cambodia's Sisters of Code, delivered a presentation on the work of the first female coding club in the country. The presentation, titled "Breaking Barriers: Empowering Girls Through the First Female Coding Club in Cambodia," aimed to ignite conversations about establishing and supporting similar initiatives globally.
Sisters of Code provides coding education, technology training, and career mentoring to girls in Cambodia and is run by IT Academy STEP Cambodia. As the first female coding club in the country, it is empowering girls and increasing female representation in the tech industry.
In her presentation, Rodionova explained how Sisters of Code was able to expand nationally through an Ambassadors model. Young female students are trained to establish coding clubs in their own communities, helping spread Sisters of Code to 16 provinces so far. This method of training trainers creates a scalable model for growth.
The talk also addressed the global relevance of the gender divide issue. Rodionova emphasized that the lack of female representation in tech is not unique to Cambodia, but a worldwide challenge. By sharing the Sisters of Code example, she hopes to inspire similar empowering actions and clubs for girls in technology across countries.
Rodionova's presentation explored the club's impact and the challenges faced in launching this pioneering program. A key takeaway was the practical model Sisters of Code provides for creating after-school coding clubs to empower girls in tech. This approach can be replicated globally to address the gender gap.
She issued a call to action for stakeholders: companies, organizations, governments, and individuals to explore opportunities to establish and fund female coding clubs in their communities. Citing Sisters of Code's success, she argued we can work together to create a more diverse, equitable tech industry by providing girls access and education.
During the Q&A, Rodionova explained how digital safety is taught from the start in their curriculum. She confirmed the Sisters of Code methodology can be successfully adapted to empower girls in tech globally.
Attendees left the talk inspired to bring similar clubs to their countries. Rodionova closed by reminding that by supporting girls through programs like Sisters of Code, we can achieve an inclusive tech sector where women have equal opportunities to shape our digital future.
We are proud to see the IT Academy STEP Cambodia was represented at such a prestigious event and attended together with the delegation from Cambodia, and we are inspired by the work of Natalja Rodionova and the Sisters of Code team. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of their gender or background. We are committed to supporting programs like Sisters of Code that are empowering girls and women through tech education.