Ashgabat's first-ever Women’s Hackathon promotes gender diversity in Tech
15 August 2022
The United Nations Development Programme supported by the United States Embassy in Turkmenistan hosted a Hackathon themed “DigiWomen STRIVE”.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Turkmenistan within the Global Project on “Strengthening resilience to prevent violent extremism in Asia (STRIVE Asia), Joint EU-UN Partnership” and the Launch Life Coding Bootcamp, supported by the United States Embassy in Turkmenistan hosted a Hackathon themed “DigiWomen STRIVE”.
Turkmenistan’s first Women’s Hackathon kicked off at the UN building in Ashgabat on August 12 to mark International Youth Day and brought together more than 35 women and girls. Over the next two days, 9 teams worked together to create tech-driven projects that generate innovative ideas and digital solutions. Each team focused on web and application development addressing issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment through increasing employment and learning opportunities, as well as networking and mentoring opportunities for the professional and personal development of women and girls.
Hackathon participants, Launch Life Coding Bootcamp attendees, learned to develop websites and applications from scratch during the six-month long program. Supported by the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan, Launch Life Coding Bootcamp encourages women and girls, especially from the most vulnerable groups, to start their journey towards a career in technology.
“2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Turkmenistan. And today’s Hackathon is a shining example of the U.S. Embassy’s fruitful partnerships with local organizations. This event is particularly important because it recognizes the important contributions women have made and will continue to make in technological fields in Turkmenistan. It is widely reported, that around the world, women are underrepresented in technological fields. We must continue to ensure all members of our society face no obstacles to reaching their potential and breakdown barriers that prevent women from participating fully in any industry. American President John F. Kennedy once said, “effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” I’m inspired not only by the effort I witnessed today but also moved by the clarity of purpose and direction of our participants. And that is why these women tech leaders give me so much hope for the next 30 years of our relationship with Turkmenistan. I am honored to participate in today’s event,” remarked Philmon Hale, Public Diplomacy Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat.
“Digital transformation is changing our world and shaping our future. However, digitalization is not gender neutral. Social and gender norms prevent women and girls from harnessing the power of digital technologies,” – noted Ms. Mary Risaeva, UNDP Officer-in-Charge in Turkmenistan. “UNDP promotes gender equality and women's empowerment and works on eliminating gender stereotypes so that women and men can equally benefit from the opportunities provided by a new digital reality.”
At the end of the two-day Hackathon, the participating teams pitched their creative ideas to a panel of judges. The presented projects demonstrated innovative solutions in web and app development for women's empowerment. All winning teams were awarded prizes and certificates of appreciation. The best team members were rewarded with internship opportunities supported by local IT companies.
Participants and organizers of Turkmenistan's first-ever Women's Hackathon noted the special dynamic atmosphere of creativity and excitement that brought together participants with a variety of IT competencies and ambitions. “Hackathon served as a great opportunity for us to learn something new and develop further our tech skills by working together,” – said Ms. Ayshe Sammiyeva, one of the digital marathon participants.
The “DigiWomen STRIVE” Hackathon aims to empower women and girls with digital skills, provide a platform to create innovative ideas and showcase their newfound technical talents, and encourage more women developers to pursue careers in IT to create a sustainable and inclusive future for all.