The Vweta Chadwick 'Sheroes ICT Hub' Launch
According to the UN, access to the internet is a human right. Digital literacy should no longer be considered a privilege. Regardless of gender or economic status, everyone must be digitally literate to ensure equality. Thanks to the internet, people can now easily exchange knowledge, share stories, connect, and create ideas; thus, changing the world. But for people from an underserved background, this is not so easy. So Vweta Chadwick, the founder of Projectasha.Org started a campaign in 2016 to create digital hubs in underserved communities to empower girls through free access to Sheroes Digital Literacy Hubs.
Sheroes ICT Hub Launch
Following the death of Vweta Chadwick in 2020, the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Association Nigeria (MWFAAN) organized an honorary Vweta Chadwick Digital Hub grant. Vweta Chadwick (1988-2020), was a Mandela Washington Fellow Class of 2016. The grant was targeted at projects serving girls from underserved communities - to help bridge the gender literacy gap - one hub at a time.
In October 2020, after a competitive tender and bid process, MWFAAN and ProjectASHA awarded a N1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira) grant to Kindle Africa Initiative (An NGO actively working with less privileged girls in Isolo community and other regions of Lagos State). The project’s founder is Olorunfunmi Adebajo, also a Mandela Washington Fellow Alumni Class of 2016.
The perfectly conducive and fully equipped 20-seater Digital Hub was commissioned by the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard on 27 January 2021. The launch took place at Hub location in Isolo, Lagos State (32, Okota Road, Isolo Lagos State). Due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, attendance was limited to current fellows and Alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship and representatives from ProjectASHA.
Ambassador Mary Beth, in her speech commended the admirable work of Vweta Chadwick, her legacy and her impact in advocating firmly for the rights of girls across Nigeria in her lifetime. She also applauded Kindle Africa Initiative for duly executing the project to a high standard and on time.
Shero Funmi Adedayo spoke on behalf of Vweta’s family and ProjectASHA. She reiterated Vweta’s dream of seeing more girls being equipped and empowered through digital literacy hubs to amplify their voices and find purpose. Digital Hubs like this would girls and women who feel lost and forgotten due to “poverty, digital illiteracy, structural inequality.” Access to the internet, would… give them a voice. Vweta envisioned creating “digital literacy hubs… a safe place where women and girls can connect and share their stories with the world”. This initiative was a determined response to Vweta’s call to action in a speech to the US State of Delaware Senate and Representatives (2016). Vweta said “Through my work with ASHA …. I would like good people everywhere to join my good cause and give a voice to many women and girls like me, through Digital Literacy Hubs.”
The Sheroes ICT Hub will serve girls, school dropouts/teenage mothers including girls living with disabilities in Isolo community. The girls will be trained for ‘free’ for 12 weeks on advanced Microsoft packages, through the help of highly professional instructors.
As at launch day, 2 participants have already enrolled. At completion of the training, participants will receive a ‘Sheroes Certificate of completion’.
For sustainability, the Sheroes ICT Hub will serve open doors for extended training on graphic design, digital marketing, and other advanced courses; all at a very affordable fee.
Facilities at the Hub include 20 computer Systems, 10 UPS devices, social distanced workstations, an Inspiration Board, and Air conditioning systems among other fittings.
Project ASHA is pleased with the launch of the first Sheroes ICT Hub in Nigeria. But for Vweta’s vision to be fully realised, a single ICT hub cannot suffice. There is a need for more Sheroes ICT Hubs all over Nigeria and Africa to train and empower the growing number of digitally illiterate girls and women from underserved Communities.
Call to Action.
The joint effort of MWFAAN and ProjectASHA is a welcome perfect starting point to closing the digital gender gap. ProjectASHA hopes to establish more hubs across Nigeria and Africa. That way we can guarantee digital literacy for all girls from neglected Communities.
We call on Tech companies and female role models to heed our call for support. We invite donations of used and refurbished computers and laptops to enable us to reach our goal.
Some of the attendees (Key Personalities) present were:
Mary Beth Leonard – Ambassador, US to Nigeria and Representative, the US Consulate
Adepeju Jayeioba - President MWFAAN 2014
Olorunfunmi Adebajo - Awardee, MWFAAN 2016
Joseph Waribugo- Volunteer Coordinator and Representative, ProjectASHA
Funmi Adedayo - Activity Coordinator and Representative, ProjectASHA
Plus other persons duly represented (MWF Alumni)