Having experienced some of the worst incidences of violence during the conflict in Somalia, Abdi is one of the few girls who are excelling against odds in a harsh environment where social amenities have collapsed. And where cultural issues work against women empowerment.At the age of 18, Abdi has just completed secondary education at Gamboi Secondary School, where she emerged the top student in the 2005 examination.
While at school, she was however disturbed that her final grades might not help her much without computer knowledge.
Indeed, she had seen her older sisters unable to get a job in NGOs or other private organizations in Puntland because they lacked basic computer skills. Even if they had that interest, her family was too poor to send them or her to neighbouring countries for a course in computers.
While still worrying what will befall her, a golden chance presented itself.
“One day the headmaster told us that Mr Shuke wanted girls who he was going to train on how to use computers, and I being one of the brightest student, I was choosen,” says Abdi, with a broad smile.
But she was not the only one who was lucky at that time. Other 19 girls were also selected to take part in the three-month training (October 2005 to January 2006), which was funded by UNIFEM.
Abdi was very thankful to UNIFEM saying this was the first time she had received such an opportunity in the last 10 years.
“This was a rare chance for me, and I know I am now better than many of my friends. Getting a job will be easier for me,” says Abdi, in a very optimistic voice.
In fact, immediately after the training Abdi says she has visited four organization in search of job.
“You know, I have computer skills which organizations here looks for and I am confident I can do anything.”
During the course, the girls were taught about two computer programmes: MS-Windows and MS-Excel. The course also entailed typing lessons as well as how to use the computer to make power point presentations.
At the end of the course, each of the girls was handed a certificate at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs in Garowe, Puntland.
Shuke and Njoki, representing UNIFEM, presented the girls with the certificates.
Those who went through the programme say they are now the envy of other girls in their area. In this society, computer skills seem to be a preserve of men and hence when a woman acquires them, then she is envied by many.
According to Shuke, the whole idea of the training was to empower the girls with skills that are now on demand in Somali.
Says Shuke: “We have found out that focused and long-term training programmes like this one offers more value to the trainees than short-term ones that are spread thinly on so many areas.”
As they go through the reconstruction phase, trying to put in place systems that have capacity to respond to the needs of it people in this era where technology drives every facet of life, it is hoped the computer skills acquired by the 20 girls is the right thing at the right time.