Calling itself “a movement of direct action for the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to improve economic outcomes for girls”, iamtheCODE is an organisation which aims to support women in STEAMED (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics, entrepreneurship and design) by empowering them with coding skills.

This global organisation has placed a special focus on girls and women in the developing world, and especially in Africa. By developing digital literacy in women and girls, iamtheCODE wants to prepare the youth for jobs in the gig economy, where tech is increasingly at the forefront of work and innovation.

At the BCX Summit held in Johannesburg in 2017, iamtheCODE founder Mariéme Jamme laid out the organisation’s goal of training 1 million girls and women by 2030.

“It is time for us Africans to work together. Coding is a 21st-century skill and every young girl growing up today in our society should have access to it, but only with time, investment, commitment and compassion can we allow this to happen.

“There are girls growing up today in South Africa who are extremely poor, neglected and forgotten by society. It is only with time that we can make a difference in people’s lives and I believe technology is an enabler for young women and girls in Africa. We cannot design solutions when we forget young girls and young women. AI will have a profound effect on the way we design solutions and women and girls must surely be a part of that,” Jamme said.

The first-ever South African iamtheCODE two-day hackathon – South Africa is the 66th country to take part in this event – was held in Johannesburg during the last weekend in July, and saw girls from all over the city come together to decode the 17 United Nations Development Goals, set out in 2015.

The initiative is a two-for-one, allowing girls to learn to code, while also having them think critically about how the goals set out by the United Nations may be best implemented.

Listen to iamtheCODE founder Mariéme Jamme discuss this wonderful and necessary programme in a TED talk below.

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