By Jamila Abass
Being a female techpreneur, I often get asked the question – how’s it like to be a woman in a male dominated field? Of course I understand am asked that question so I can speak about the difficulties of being a woman in tech but my answer has always been the same. it’s the best time to be a woman in tech.
If you asked me that a few years back when nursing and secretarial were the only professions women pursued,I would probably highlight the challenges. But now,gone are the days when women were made believe that they have a limit of what they can or cannot do,limit in careers,in leadership, in imagination. We are in an era where the ecosystem for the girl child to thrive and succeed -especially in sciences and technology -is meticulously designed with love and care by their families,societies, governments and many agencies who now more than ever understand and believe that the success of a woman is advancement of mankind.
I grew up in a patriarchal society. When I was a child, I thought life is unfair to young girls like me who are always reminded of their place in society : the kitchen in their mothers houses and eventually,the kitchen in their husbands houses. I will be dragged from a football match with my brothers to come and wash the dishes,expected to eat,sleep and breath( ok this is an exaggeration but you get the point) and behave in a certain way. So every night before I sleep I would pray to God and ask Him to change me to a boy. And every morning when I wake up, I will look at myself and see if something grew overnight(Definitely embarrassed to admit this) . Am sure you can guess the disappointment on my face when I find nothing has changed. Thinking about that now makes me realize that I was just a little girl praying to be treated better, to be told that yes in certain societies these are the duties of a woman but you are not limited to that and you can do so many other things that have nothing to do with my gender. To be given the right to be a child just like the boys and most of all to be believed in and celebrated.
Fast forward to today. I could become a man if I wanted to. I mean Bruce Jenner; now Caitlyn did it(became a woman). She is now probably living her childhood dream. Do I want to be a man? Not a chance!!! God has already answered my prayers. As the world has now come to terms with the fact that we need women to make big strides in society and to make the world a better place for ourselves and for future generations.
This week, I was at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Nairobi.A whole day was dedicated to Women & Youth. Celebrating and supporting the work that women from different parts of the world do. Yesterday, I was privileged to listen to the opening speech of President Barack Obama and he said ”’If half of your team is playing, then we have a problem’. So come on ladies! We are no longer victims, we are teammates with our brothers, fathers, sons and husbands. Let’s play the game now shall we?
Jamila is an Agricultural Economist and a Software Engineer. Her passion in rural development and technology led her to founding M-Farm, an app that is helping farmers trapped in subsistence agriculture move into commercial farming by leveraging available mobile technology to provide needed real-time information and incentivize collective action.