Each new year brings with it the opportunity for a fresh start. The idea of a new beginning is so inspiring, that we cannot help but feel more hopeful and optimistic about the year ahead. But before the final glow of festive cheers fades away, it is also important to look back at what we have learned and accomplished in the previous twelve months.
AFCHIX is privileged to be able to look back on 2022 with great gratitude. Thanks to the persistence of our volunteers, the determination of the women in the communities we work in, and the support of our partners we can celebrate another successful year. As an organisation, AFCHIX was excited to launch our new website, logo, and brand identity in 2022 while our community networks, continuing their work under the WomenConnect Challenge, have also continued to connect and inspire more women.
In the Lanet Umoja community in Kenya, we were proud to begin the second phase of the project deployment. This included the installation of a new 30m tall mast at a local church and other equipment to expand the network, including adding a public Wifi hotspot. The network continues to add new fix subscribers and has brought internet connectivity to 8 local schools. “We are proud to see how the education system has changed with the internet connections we have brought to schools. The students, especially the young ones, can embrace technology better as they learn to use it,” says Mariah Njuguna, AFCHIX Project Coordinator in Kenya.
Mariah adds that the training and activities conducted as part of the project, which included teaching women how to use a Wifi internet and open email accounts, have also helped to empower women in the community. “Women and girls have become bolder in facing the tech world.”
Dr Houda Chakiri, AFCHIX Project Coordinator in Morocco, says the digital literacy and marketing training conducted in the Aitz Izdeg community has also helped the women there to overcome some of their fears. The training conducted in Aitz Izdeg included sessions on how to manage a cooperative and as a result, the women who participated have now formed a new cooperative to sell the products they produce. Thanks to digital marketing training, they are also using Facebook to market and sell these products.
AFCHIX organised an exhibition event in Tetouan to give the cooperatives a platform to showcase their products. For some participants, this event meant travelling outside of their native village for the first time. “After completing AFCHIX’s digital literacy and marketing training, the women travelled to sell their products and overcame their fear of facing clients. This was our biggest achievement,” Houda says.
Ghillian Bock, AFCHIX Project Coordinator in Namibia, says the Groot Aub community network offered digital literacy training in 2022 and is planning to install new equipment in the coming year. “In 2022, we put up an extra mast, which is something that we really are proud of. We also managed to register the network as an NGO and opened our first IT- hub.”
Much of the research and information AFCHIX shares, focuses on highlighting just how pervasive the digital gender gap is and how urgently it needs to be addressed. We recognise that although it is a global phenomenon, distinctly local approaches and efforts are critical to closing it. It requires educating communities, winning support from local leaders, and inspiring women to reach further than what they had always believed to be their potential. This takes time. It cannot be done overnight or even within a few months.
Therefore, at the start of 2023, AFCHIX is both grateful and proud that this year is not a completely new beginning. In 2023, we look forward to building on the hard work and progress we have already made. We celebrate every small success, every task completed, and most importantly, every life that our work has managed to touch. And for this reason, we start the new year inspired to do even more.