Bosnian girls hone IT skills at web coding camp

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, young women learn how to code and programme their way to future careers in IT and science, thanks to IT Girls, a UN Women-supported joint UN initiative.

Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bosnian girls hone IT skills at web coding camp 675x430

Training participants, trainers and the IT Girls team at the awarding ceremony. Photo: ITGirls

Inspired by the digital revolution, 12 girls aged 13 to 15 joined Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first web development training camp for young women in Sarajevo, the country’s capital. During four days of training, the girls learned how to use HTML, CSS and JavaScript, then worked in teams to develop five web-based social projects: Game of Code, Studying Funning, Travel Fun Dolphins, BiH Students, and Passion for Fashion.

Bosnian girls learn how to code using HTML and CSS. Photo: IT Girls
Bosnian girls learn how to code using HTML and CSS. Photo: IT Girls

"I'm so happy I had the chance to make my own website,” said camp participant Uma Nea, whose team produced the Game of Code web application. “I love programming but never imagined I'd actually see a result of my coding work so quickly.”

The web coding camp was organised by IT Girls, a joint initiative of young employees of UN Women, UNDP and UNICEF in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Started in February 2016, IT Girls works to increase job opportunities for young women and girls by providing them with the digital technology and IT skills that will get them more involved in computer programming and the male-dominated information and communication technologies (ICT) sector.

“The girls successfully mastered the skills we taught, and are now talking about programming and IT as something interesting and attractive to pursue a career in,” said IT Girls trainer Ms. Rialda Spahić.

Rialda Spahić, one of the trainers, explains to girls how to use programming languages to create their own websites. Photo: IT Girls
Rialda Spahić, one of the trainers, explains to girls how to use programming languages to create their own websites. Photo: IT Girls

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, young women are hit disproportionately hard by unemployment, which is above 60 per cent for all youth. The country’s high-paying information and communication technologies (ICT) sector is creating more jobs, particularly for young people but IT Girls found that although girls had the same access to technology as boys, they lacked confidence to pursue careers in ICT.

To change that, IT Girls works to bridge gender gaps by making young girls more aware of the importance of coding as an entry skill into ICT, increasing their confidence by promoting female role models in the ICT sector, and helping train girls in programming and coding.

The IT Girls team actively cooperates with Microsoft in Bosnia and Herzegovina, NGOs and private sector companies Authority Partners, Mistral Technologies, OSB Engineering & IT and Atlant BH. The companies provide incentives to encourage girls to code and provide free of charge training.

Training participants were also introduced to basics of Java programming languages
Training participants were also introduced to basics of Java programming languages. Photo: IT Girls

IT Girls continues to grow, focusing on awareness raising via social media and the web platform http://www.itgirls.ba and will expand the training to remote and diverse communities. The team plans to work with education authorities to mainstream coding in schools and to increase girls’ participation in science, technology, economics and mathematics.

“We want our initiative to grow bigger and better. We want the digital revolution to reach every girl in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And we are sure we’ll make it,” said Ms. Aleksandra Kuljanin, Communications Officer at UN Women BiH and IT Girls co-founder.