From where I stand: “Their expressions when they created their first website were priceless”

In the small town of Tafila, in the southern part of Jordan, a social enterprise started by young Jordanian women is teaching teenagers, including girls, computer programming. As the world of work changes, education and training in ICT is critical in preparing women to seize the opportunities in the growing digital economy.

Date: 28 February 2017

Shurouq Al Hamaideh. Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig
Shurouq Al Hamaideh. Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig

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Young people today are exposed to and familiar with modern technology in ways that we underestimate. When we first started to teach computer programming to teenagers in Tafila, some people discouraged us. They said that children would not have enough patience or the ability to learn coding and programming. But children can surprise you!

In the first course we delivered, we had 30 children aged 13 to 15 years—almost half of them were girls. They were taught how to develop their own websites from scratch. Their expressions—when they created their first website—were priceless!

Teaching them how to use codes was not difficult; finding a space to teach, with enough computers, was the challenge. There's only one computer lab in the cultural centre, with 30 computers. That’s all we could use.

We wanted to create an enabling environment for girls and young women to learn technology near their homes, since they do not have a lot of mobility without the consent of their parents or husband.

Children are the future of the country, and if girls are empowered, as much as boys, to learn and pursue careers in technology, we can make a lot of progress. But technology is still not part of the Jordanian school curricula. In Tafila, people think that only men can lead in the field of technology. This is not true. Men simply have more privilege of time and opportunities, while women are expected to take care of the household.

I want to teach computer programming to as many girls as possible so that we can break these stereotypes and give girls the chance they deserve.”


SDG 5: Gender equality

Shurouq Al Hamaideh is a 22-year-old social entrepreneur from Tafila, Jordan. After attending a social entrepreneurship training provided as part of UN Women’s Spring Forward programme in 2016, funded by the European Union, Hamaideh, together with her friends, started a social business in to teach computer programming to teenagers. At the time of this interview, barely three months into the business, 33 young people, including girls, had completed the course. Hamaideh’s work contributes towards Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and its target on enhancing the use of information and communications technology to promote the empowerment of women and girls.

Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.