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Meet the official South African ambassador for Girl Rising

Hlulani Baloyi is 22 years old and currently resides in Pretoria, though she grew up in Limpopo. She studied Computer Science (Technical Applications) but wasn’t like you and me. She didn’t have a laptop or tablet to play on growing up and interacting at all with a PC was a challenge in itself. She didn’t have our opportunities, but instead of despairing, she became inspired to find a way to interact with a PC and ensure that girls that come after her are computer literate, rather than just being able to operate a PC.

Meet the official South African ambassador for Girl Rising

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Girl Rising in an international programme supported by Intel that aims to encourage more young women to explore careers in ICT. The idea behind the programme is that if you educate just one girl, you change the world. Last week, Hlulani gave up her time to help Girls Invent Tomorrow (an Intel sponsored initiative) to teach 20 young girls how to code.

Hlulani is an inspiration to young women and an example that even if a PC isn’t readily accessible to you, you can still pursue a career in Computer Sciences.

Baloyi says she loves coding because it really is just about problem solving but on a computer. She says her greatest fulfilment comes from solving day-today problems electronically. While initiatives like Girl Rising and Intel’s She Will Connect Programme are attempting to get more women involved in the ICT sector and online, I wanted to find out from Baloyi, herself a coder, why more women aren’t pursuing “tech” related careers.

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Baloyi believes we have inherited a culture that doesn’t support or encourage the education of girls. Women are vastly under represented across the board but predominantly in the tech world. I think women have the impression that to fit in to the tech industry specifically, the need to be masculine or forgo their femininity to a degree. This isn’t the case.

I loved Baloyi’s tenacity to make a difference in the lives of children. Did you know she only came into contact with a computer on her first day at tertiary – and she was studying Computer Science! Her ten year plan is start up a software development company but also run an organisation that educates children about computer literacy at an early age so as to empower and encourage them.

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Baloyi is the perfect Girl Rising example. Educate one girl; change the world… which is exactly what she plans to do now. I decided to steal some of her knowledge for Tech Girl readers and asked her the best place to start learning to code.

Here are her tips:

  • Get on the internet. There are so many FREE tools for beginners. Trawl the blogs and YouTube.
  • When you’ve got the basics down, enrol in tech spaces and join the conversations online and off. You can learn so much from other coders!

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