Melbourne-based startup Girl Geek Academy has launched its first Pacific arm in Samoa, led by Samoa’s Ministry of Finance’s principal business data analyst Tagiilima Neemia.
The new branch’s pilot workshop, #MissMakesCode, invited local girls aged six- to 12-years-old, mothers and other female relatives to learn coding as a community. The Samoa event was held, free of charge, on January 11, with nearly 50 women and girls taking part.
Neemia joined Girl Geek Academy while studying for her Masters in Cyber Security at RMIT, and was inspired by her daughter who coded her first game during a coding camp in Sydney.
In a statement, she said learning tech is “the way out of some of the social, environmental and financial issues we all find ourselves in world-over.”
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“There is no reason why our girls here in Samoa can’t be part of that exciting future,” she said.
According to a study published last year, between 2011 and 2012, Samoa’s unemployment rates shot up from 5.68% to 8.75%, where the figure continues to hover.
A separate report found the economy is still dominated by agriculture, but women are increasing their participation in the local workforce, filling about half the government positions and leading around 40% of small businesses.
“Learning to code is a life-changer, because the skill can open so many professional doors for women and girls, both now and into the future,” said Girl Geek Academy co-founder and chief executive Sarah Moran.
The #MissMakesCode’s pilot workshop in Samoa connected participants with local tech workers, and plans for future workshops are underway.
The program builds on Girl Geek Academy’s efforts in Australia to equalise the gender balance in traditionally male dominated industries such as gaming and aircraft piloting. The startup was launched in 2014 and to date, has taught coding skills to more than 10,000 girls and women in Australia.