For LakeHub Academy students, it is all about reimagining themselves through technology skills. While Digital literacy has become as important as traditional literacy, making technology a powerful tool for girls to effect change on issues that affect them is critical to the advancement of girls’ and women’s education and empowerment in bridging the digital gender gap.
LakeHub Academy, through the FemiDev Program, is empowering girls and young women, helping them realise their dreams and bridge the divide by giving them access to digital tools and knowledge that can boost their employment opportunities and possibilities to earn additional income.
Gender equality is a keystone of a prosperous, modern economy that provides sustainable inclusive growth. We caught up with Luddy Zenni Oluoch, cohort 4 student, who opened up about her learning experience at the Academy, underscoring some of the systematic problems that drive the digital gender divide.
When did you develop an interest in Tech?
What inspired me to venture into Tech was the Covid-19 pandemic. It disrupted so many lives, jobs, and marriages. I saw a gap created by that disruption, which could be filled by technology. Many who struggle with mental health issues did not have access to professional counselling services. So, I imagined a local online platform where counsellors and patients could meet, and that is what drove me to learn about software development. Another thing that inspired me was motherhood: I am a mother of 3 young children who need my unabated love and care. I figured an opportunity to work remotely as a Techie or software developer would be the ideal occupation.
How did you know about LakeHub?
I first heard about it through a colleague at Kisumu Sex Workers Alliance (KISWA) — an NGO that advocates for the rights of sex workers, where I used to work as a mentor. Thinking I would be interested, she forwarded a link via WhatsApp, and that is how I found out about the FemiDev Program. I applied and here I am today.
Were you encouraged to pursue a career in Tech as a young girl?
I grew up in the traditional African setup which, typically, has parents as the “career choosers.” Long story short, I was coerced into pursuing a course in Agricultural Economics though my dream course was Business Information Technology (BIT). After my first course, I was fortunate to get financial aid to pursue my second: Psychology. That is when I discovered my passion for helping people find their true identities and become whom they want to be. Technology is now the bridge between me and those whom I intend to succour. My experiences reiterate the significance of letting someone write the page rather than forcing them to be on a particular page.
Did you have any knowledge or training in Information Technology (IT) prior to joining the LakeHub Academy?
No, I did not. I never studied computer packages. Everything I knew about computers, including Microsoft Office, before joining LakeHub, was self-taught.
What are some of the biases or assumptions you have come across, now that you are a woman in Tech?
One of my cousins who is a software developer once told me, “Zenni! You know not so many women are doing this … utawezana? (will you manage?)”
On the contrary, my hubby, also a Techie, always encourages me to put my best foot forward. He appreciates my take-no-prisoners drive.
What are some of the notable contributions you have made to your community thus far?
In addition to working with sex workers as a mentor, I have been privileged to work with Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) including Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) where I empowered the children through psychosocial support. The most significant lesson from my community service is that the less fortunate are painfully undereducated, generally, and the consequences are catastrophic, especially for young girls.
Tell me about the Tech project that you are currently working on at LakeHub.
I consider myself a problem-solver, so I am currently designing two websites; one for cleaning services (house laundry and office cleaning), and another for nanny services (day-care and long-stay).
How do you think the skills you are currently learning at LakeHub will impact your future?
I believe they will boost my employability chances. Eventually, however, I aspire to be self-employed. Using these software development skills, I intend to create a mobile application through which vulnerable members of society can openly report or share their stories (family problems, difficulties in marriage, difficulties making the school-to-work transition, sexual and gender-based violence, etc.) and access free counseling services or help-lines.
As a web developer or coder, what strengths do you think are the most critical?
Patience, an endless horizon of creativity, and the ability to challenge oneself.
What do you enjoy the most about your lessons at LakeHub?
The lessons are exciting enough to fuel my curiosity, though at times intimidating because of the complexity of some concepts. Nonetheless, group discussions and peer-to-peer collaborations make them somewhat easier and quicker to understand.