Imagine a space where girls can access the information they need and learn about technology for free. New initiatives at community centers around the globe do just that — and in the process, they foster girls’ business, critical thinking, and teamwork skills outside of school.
In Moldova, Dana, 17, is a member of Team Nanda — a group of high school students working together to build an app will help their community be more informed about the events happening in their city. Her team is one of seven in Moldova participating in the Technovations Challenge, a program that aims to teach young women about technology and entrepreneurship.
Already, the Technovations Challenge meetings — taking place in the local library — have helped Dana improve her critical thinking and problem solving skills. She often shares what she learns in the program with her friends, and the content helps her complete her schoolwork.
As for her future, Dana feels confident that her participation in the program will contribute to her future employment.
“My parents want to me to pursue a career in economics, business management, or banking. I am not yet decided,” she said. “But I am more than sure that the skills acquired at Technovation meetings will be useful for my career.”
Her experience is only one example of the crucial role libraries and technology play in building skills. All over the world, libraries are helping girls like Dana freely access information and improve their lives through technology skills education.
Connecting girls with information and services
In Ukraine, teenage girls are using Skype and online forums provided at libraries to access reproductive rights and counseling services. One library launched a service that uses Skype to provide counseling on teenage pregnancy prevention in cooperation with local social workers and medical specialists. The girls who benefit from the service are from remote villages, and otherwise wouldn’t have access to counseling.
Olga Mytiuk was one of the participants in the project and frequently visits the library.
“During one of my visits, the library staff told me that they were launching a series of online consultations for teenage girls,” Olga said.
“A lot of girls my age are interested in topics related to sexual health, and this gave us the opportunity to ask questions to experts. We don’t have specialists at the village hospital that we can talk to about these matters. The project taught us how to be healthier and protect ourselves. We are also better equipped to search for more information on health-related issues online, to find advice specifically tailored for girls of our age, and to communicate with like-minded peers.”
Though Girls in ICT Day officially happens only once a year, libraries connect girls with technology every day to increase their skills and help them become informed, engaged community members. Dana and Olga are just two examples of the many girls who are impacted by the work libraries do to encourage ICT participation, in turn increasing access to information and opening doors in the world of technology.
Through the Global Libraries programs, public libraries are becoming a common space where citizens can come together, inform their lives, and contribute to community discourse.