As technology continues to advance, access to tech and the development of digital skills have become critically necessary. Yet, barriers such as cost, access to broadband networks, security and digital literacy have meant that women in Latin America remain 25% less likely than their male counterparts to use digital services.
Countries throughout the region need to prioritize education that contributes to closing this digital gender gap, and that ensures women and men have the opportunity to become competitive by developing the skills that businesses need in today’s tech-driven economy.
With this in mind, Pro Mujer is investing in programs that support digital literacy for underserved women in Latin America, helping them develop both skills and confidence in using new technologies. This month, we proudly launched a collaboration with Microsoft to bring the coding course, #YoPuedoProgramar (“#ICanCode”), to Pro Mujer clients in Bolivia. In this versatile program, Pro Mujer women customized the course to fit their needs, applying their learnings to their businesses, as well as other areas of their lives.
About the Program
Overall, the course received great interest from Pro Mujer women hoping to participate and learn technology skills. For the program, we selected twenty women, organizing them into two groups, each in a fully-equipped room with an instructor from Microsoft. One group worked on website programming on Notepad, while the other group worked on Visual Studio Code. The women expressed both interest and doubts as they began their course, working alongside the teacher and advancing together through the materials. Particularly moving were the women attending with their infants, determined to learn with their children at their side.
One group named their website “Mi Primera Página” (“My First Page”) while the other named theirs “Yo Programo” (“I Code”); each project incorporated unique characteristics of each participant. The instructors guided the projects, providing one-on-one assistance to individuals whenever they did not understand parts of the course.
Interviews were conducted at the conclusion of the course to gather feedback. We were heartened to see that at the end of the course several women inquired how they could continue learning. The #YoPuedoProgramar initiative presents a unique opportunity for Pro Mujer to introduce digital skills to our clients. We are grateful to Microsoft for their collaboration and support that made this program possible. We would also like to thank the women who participated for their time and motivation.
It is a privilege for Pro Mujer to provide opportunities to underserved women in Latin America; a region that holds some of the highest rates of gender and income inequalities in the world and where women remain particularly vulnerable. In the region, 54% of women (in non-agricultural labor) work in the informal economy.
In addition to our work in Bolivia, Pro Mujer also operates in Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina and Peru, offering a suite of financial, health and capacity-building services to help women build businesses and lead healthier lives. Since 1990, Pro Mujer has provided $3 billion in small loans and 8 million health interventions, impacting over 2 million women and their families.