Since 2008, I've worked in Africa on public health research on HIV/AIDS, family planning, and
In living in the communities, I've learned about their lives, their joys, and their struggles.
I was struck by seeing women with 6-, 7-, 8-, or 9 children who are often abused by their
This caused me to move beyond research and into championing the Smartstainable empowerment program, which teaches women and girls valuable information technology (IT) skills so that they can earn a living, support their families, raise technology awareness and knowledge in their community by mentoring others, and ultimately, give them choices in their lives. Professor Susan, Co-Founder, Smartstainable
The first program introduced women to the fundamentals of computers and culminated
in their building a mobile app. The inaugural program concluded in July 2015. The attendees received
certificates of accomplishment and they celebrated with family and friends. They then shared something
special with other women in the community: the feeling of change and self-determination that they
gained through computer knowledge and knowhow.
The students participated in Skype calls with computer professionals globally which stirred an amazingly positive reaction from all involved. They formed a global community of empowerment. Through Skype, they also opened their hearts to empower survivors and caretakers of the Ebola virus in Liberia.
At the request of the medical superintendent, the team of rural women began sharing their skills and
knowledge with the hospital staff, adapting their schedules to match the staff's demanding schedules.
They passed the torch from woman-to-woman…
In June 2018, we piloted and still offer the Teenage Empowerment Program. At the end of the program, rural teenagers gained more confidence, better discipline towards completing assignments, and a stronger desire to possess equal rights. They networked with other participants, which provided a feeling of empowerment as they individually shaped their lives and collectively shared their transformation with each other.
We will create additional learning opportunies together to help communities solve probelms of rural
poverty, lower the rate of early teenage pregnancies and marriages, and provide skills that lead to
potential in the age of virtual work.
We will continue to provide new train-the-trainer programs to additional rural women. They, in turn, will earn money to oversee free community-owned computer technology programs. It's both smart and sustainable.Tom Snyder, Co-Founder, Smartstainable