Saturday December 05, 2020
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Fariha Marjia

The societal perception of certain subjects like mathematics, engineering and science are just ‘not designed for girls’ is being put to test by Code It, girl! which aims to diminish that view. The non-profit, voluntary group works to create awareness and teach coding to young girls.

Guilty for stereotyping here a little, but many girls fall victim to these false myths surrounding ‘gendered’ activities that persist under the layers of gender equality and women empowerment slogans even today. As a result, girls in Bangladesh are often restrained from engaging in various sports, computer activities, gaming or having interest in automobiles, claiming these fields to be “boys’ toys”. 

Afreen Hossain and Rezvi Bin Islam, founded the concept of ‘Code It, Girl!’ back in 2014 along with the support of their friend and colleague, Mirfat Sharmin.The founders aspire to hone young girls and encourage them to pursue their interests in the field of computer programming. 

“Programming is a flexible field that offers a ton of technical and creative skills. Yet, there are fewer programmers than what is needed. Our effort is to introduce more and more females to the coding world and let them know that this is a place where they might find their passion,” believes Rezvi, who currently works as a software tester and quality assurance engineer at Vantage Labs.

Code It, Girl reaches out to young girls from all walks of life whether in high schools, colleges, and universities and encourages female students through the use of social media to take an interest in programming. One of the biggest problems the organization is facing is that the girls, although interested, are quite shy; so the mentors consistently encourage the girls to interact more openly. And to make the girls more comfortable, tutorials are conducted in Bangla. 

Apart from teaching coding, the organization takes to its social media platform to share news of programming competitions, the benefits of working in the IT industry among the girls, possible opportunities and stories of other female coders worldwide to give them a boost of confidence. 

Founder Rezvi Bin Islam states, “There are numerous professionals working for foreign companies in off-shore basis and there are local companies who are developing amazing products for themselves employing our local human resource. Adding to that there are freelancers who work on hourly contracts from companies from around the globe. These dynamic working opportunities create a variety of pay options for the employees.”

Code It, Girl, also has also organized two workshops till now - he first one being held at Daffodil International University in January 2015, with 43 participants from 23 different schools and colleges around the capital participated. The second workshop was held later on February at the Dhanmondi campus of Eastern University, where 42 participants from 20 different institutions took part. 

The workshops focus on giving the girls practical lessons on different uses of the programming language ‘Python.’ In addition, the participants also gained a basic knowledge of search engines and the computer operating system Linux. Towards the end, the advanced participants were also taught web concepts and designing websites using HTML and CSS as well as how to create a dynamic website using JavaScript. 

Code It, Girl, hosted the workshops in cooperation with Living On Codes, Dimik Computing School and was sponsored by Hafiza Khatun Memorial Trust. They plan to expand their services outside Dhaka in order for more young girls to be able to overcome the societal restraints and allow themselves to learn and follow their dreams. The institution is seeking support of more organizations to raise a stable fund to provide its participants with more remarkable resources.

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