Sitting in a room full of computers at the Woodstock Exchange, a shy but engaged young woman sits at a desk surrounded by notes and lines of code, talking about a recent exchange with her client. Her professionality hides the fact that she is new to the world of code. Noluvuyo is a participant in Code for Cape Town (Code4CT), a project of Innovate South Africa that introduces young women to the world of web development for social impact.

When Noluvuyo was in Grade 10, she discovered her boyfriend’s computer science book. She has always loved computers but found herself having trouble with the material. Despite the difficulties, she taught herself typing and design in hopes of becoming more computer savvy. Like Noluvuyo, many of the participants of Code4CT had limited to no exposure to coding or web development. Many said that there are no opportunities in their communities to learn how to code as there aren’t enough computers or class resources available.

“Some people in our community don’t know how to use a computer. It would help if there were some facilities where we can create a space for people to learn,” said Nwabisa, from Langa who is a first time participant in Code4CT.

“Maybe when we have those facilities, then I can be the one to bring anything that I learn from here to my community,” said Chwayita, who comes from Khayelitsha. “I can help wherever I can.”

Despite having limited tech backgrounds and scarce resources, the women had learned quite a bit in their three days of the workshop. There was great enthusiasm around learning how to build one’s own website and blog using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Some of the women had just come out of meetings with their clients, companies for which the women would be making websites for as part of the program.

 

For most, the client interaction presented an exciting and new type of challenge. Noluvuyo felt as if someone had handed her their child to care for. Her client, 18 Gangster Museum, was relying on her to make a website for their organization that focuses on crime prevention. Despite the nerves, Noluvuyo said she was ready for the challenge.

Participants of Code4CT are exposed to many other lessons as well. From pitching to team building to design, the program ensures a diversity of skills are developed over the two week program. In addition to skills, these women are also exposed to logic and its application within technology. Perhaps the most valuable part of the program is the impact it has on students’ dreams.

Luckily, programs like Code4CT exist, opening doors for young women across the city to enter the exciting world of innovation. Since 2014, Code4CT has worked with 31 women just like Noluvuyo to learn technological skills that will allow them to shape their own destinies. Noluvuyo is right, technology moves fast. But with programmes like Code for Cape Town, we can ensure that no woman is left behind.

Read more about Code4CT in 2015.

This workshop is running from 26 January 2015 – 7 Feb at The Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock.