It was a sunny September morning when Lamija first called me to discuss an idea she and Jeremy had. The Under30 challenge in the UN House was ongoing and I was nothing close to participation. That is, until the call. So, we sat in the cafeteria and Lamija started talking about the IT sector, the lack of confidence among girls when it comes to pursuing a career in IT, the high unemployment rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina… As she talked, I was visualizing more girls and women in technology. It made perfect sense. And I was already on board. My work with UN Women focuses mainly on Communications, but I strongly believe in the entity’s mandate and gender mainstreaming. I’d always wanted to be a part of some kind of revolution, so why not start a digital one?
Soon Erma and Arijana were also on board and we started developing the project proposal for the Under30 Challenge. The deadlines were tight, but we somehow managed to meet with all potential key partners. By the time our proposal was ready we knew that if we’d win we’d have strong implementing partners in both the private and NGO sector.
We became very competitive because we wanted to bring our idea to life. A bunch of emails and a few after-work meetings later, we submitted our one-pager that focused on 3 objectives: raising awareness among girls and coding, assessing the attitudes of Bosnian youth about coding and enhancing the girls’ skills to empower them to pursue a career in IT. We were so ambitious, but we knew we could make it! And so we did! We were granted 5000$ from UNDP to start working on what was supposed to be a 6-months pilot initiative. Shortly after that, the ITGirls website was launched and we started working on our first objective – raising awareness. Every day we were discovering something new – not just about programming, but about the IT industry and gender gaps. As our audience grew, we were more and more dedicated to our aim – bring girls to IT. The revolution was ours, the girls were writing to us!
Today, 6 months since the beginning, I still can’t believe how much we’ve succeeded! In cooperation with Microsoft and One World Platform, we held the first training in basics of web development and internet security. And the girls we met made us even more dedicated to our revolution.
The project we envisioned became everything we dreamed of. But more importantly, through this project, we became more than just colleagues. Even more than a team – we became a family! A growing one – now Sophie, Ena and Armina have joined us and we are constantly working on new ideas and approaches. We want our initiative to grow bigger and better. We want the digital revolution to reach every girl in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And we are sure we’ll make it.
You probably wonder how can we be sure? I say it’s because after every work meeting, working weekend and lunch break spent together we were filled with enthusiasm and energy. And those are the keys to success!