Moldovan women now say, “Yes, I code!”

Date: Thursday, April 27, 2017

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At the Moldova ICT Summit GirlsGoIT participants spoke about breaking stereotypes and succeeding as programmers, engineers, and IT students. Photo: UN Women Moldova/Marina Vatav

Gender stereotypes still dictate and limit women’s career choices In Moldova, as in many other countries. Now, thanks to GirlsGoIT, a UN Women initiative, a digital industry that once largely bypassed women in Moldova, is no longer a missed opportunity for them.

Started two years ago, GirlsGoIT Moldova empowers Moldovan girls and young women in the digital field by encouraging them to use information and communication technologies (ICT) to bring change to their communities, and challenge deeply-rooted gender stereotypes.

At the recent ICT Summit, the largest tech conference in Moldova, previous GirlsGoIT participants spoke about breaking stereotypes and succeeding as programmers, engineers, and IT students.

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Alvetina Nenita chose to study technology despite skepticism from her family and friends. Now she is a third year student and radio engineer. Photo: UN Women Moldova/Marina Vatav 

Alvetina Nenița, 20, participated in the GirlsGoIT Summer Camp two years ago. Today, she is a third-year student at the Technical University of Moldova, and an engineer at a radio station. She chose to study technology despite scepticism from her parents and members of her Roma community.

“I chose this degree spontaneously, without talking to my family. They thought I would choose a specialty ‘for girls’, something ‘easier’,” she says. “When my father heard the news, he asked: ‘Can you handle it?’ I felt the same attitude from boys in the Roma community and my classmates. Now they know that I can do it. Girls, dare and you’ll succeed,” she adds.

Anastasia Şerşun is a programmer and a professor at the Technical University of Moldova. She decided to teach IT to give students practical knowledge. Her decision was easier than most because her mother also studied technology.

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Speakers of "Inspiring stories with and for Women in Technology" panel at Moldova ICT Summit. Photo: UN Women Moldova/Marina Vatav

“My workmates often ask me whether I really work as a programmer,” says Ms. Şerşun. “They can’t believe it. But I really don’t understand why a woman is often considered less capable. It has nothing to do with gender,” she says.

Alex Arnaut, director of the tech company FFW Agency, supports the advancement of girls in the IT sector through two internships for young women from GirlsGoIT.

“We want to encourage women to take a step further,” says Mr. Arnaut. “In Moldova, we see talent that needs to be discovered,” he says, adding that he has personal reasons for his views on advancing women: His four sisters have inspired him to support women.

GirlsGoIT was initiated by UN Women with the support of the Government of Sweden, in partnership with Center of Electronic Government, Novateca – Global Libraries Moldova, the Moldovan Association of IT Companies (ATIC), and the local NGO TEKEDU. GirlsGoIT collaborates with more than 30 partners, including Moldova’s Ministries of Education and ICT, private companies, local public authorities and bilateral donors. GirlsGoIT partners are currently developing a new strategy to empower women through the 4Es: Education, Employment, Equality and Entrepreneurship.