Case Study IX. The Women’s Technology Empowerment Center (W.TEC) – Nigeria

W.TEC is a Nigerian NGO that works to help Nigerian women of all ages achieve financial independence and obtain a better quality of life by instructing them in ICT skills and applications. Programmes designed by W.TEC aim to train women for ICT-specific jobs and to develop technology skills that can be used in other industries. The NGO carries out technology literacy training, technology-based projects, mentoring, and work placement. Founded in 2008, W.TEC partners with local and international NGOs and research organizations, such as the International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada.

W.TEC implements programmes to help women and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly those unable to afford other means of technology training. W.TEC offers a female-friendly learning environment. More than 80 per cent of the instructors are women.

W.TEC is financed through its partners, including the IDRC, and private donations. In order to train and instruct women of different ages most efficiently and effectively, W.TECs maintains three categories of programmes: those for girls, young women, and older women.

W.TEC Girls
W.TEC Girls programmes are geared towards girls primarily between the ages of 11 and 17 -- secondary school students. The main programme is the W.TEC Girls Technology Camp. In this one-week residential camp, instructors help approximately 15 secondary school girls to succeed in a mixture of classes, workshops, presentations, leadership exercises, and excursions. These activities are designed to create an awareness of career options through ICTs and knowledge of how ICTs can be applied to future careers. This camp is conducted annually -- 2010 marks W.TEC Girls Technology Camp’s third year. While the third camp will require campers to pay a fee, W.TEC ensures that there will be scholarships and camp discounts available. So all girls are encouraged to apply, regardless of their family’s economic background.

W.TEC Young Women
For young women, characterized as women ages 18 to 30, W.TEC organizes a multitude of activities and courses that are designed to help improve various aspects of each woman’s life through ICT applications. The W.TEC Young Women’s Programme is a seven-day course that instructs women on the basic uses of computers and technological applications that are common in school and at work.

In 2008, 24 women participated in a programme titled "Networking for Success." The three-month programme, which included weekly interactive classes led by mentors, taught young women how to use Web 2.0 tools to empower them in their professional fields. Web 2.0 tools can be used to collaborate on projects, share information, and gather knowledge from a wide array of sources. W.TEC was able to host the Networking for Success program through their partnership with IDRC.

W.TEC Women
Many women in Nigeria, who did not have access to ICTs when they were younger, now struggle to catch up with the use of ICTs in daily life. W.TEC Women programmes are targeted towards women above the age of 30, who have few technical skills but want to learn basic computer skills to enhance their everyday lives. One recurring women’s programme is the W.TEC Women’s Programme, a two-week session that teaches basic computer literacy and other ICT skills.

Achievements and Outcomes
After completing a W.TEC program, participants remain connected to W.TEC through an active alumni network that offers support, along with technical and professional guidance. As of 2009, W.TEC programmes have directly helped 230 women and girls, with an additional 417 reached by mailing lists and online groups. These numbers don’t include the two girls each W.TEC graduate agrees to instruct and advise in ICT skills.

Through alumni evaluations and surveys, W.TEC found that all 30 graduates of the past two Girls Technology Camps have shown elevated interests in technology-centered careers, and 58 per cent of the graduates of the Networking for Success project are actively using technology in their professional lives. The programme has grown tremendously since its foundation, and will host over 14 training projects and programmes in 2010, directly affecting more than 250 more Nigerian women.

W.TEC's efforts and successes have been recognized by various awards and articles, including selection by the UN-GAID & TIG (Taking IT Global) publication on ICT Best Practices in 2009. W.TEC also received the 2009 Anita Borg Change Agent award.
For more information, please see: www.w-teconline.org