Code for Pakistan Hosts Open Source Day for Women

Encouraging Women into Tech

40 young women and guests participated at the Open Source Day for Women (OSDW) here in Karachi, at Habib University. This day-long event was conducted by Code for Pakistan to encourage learning open source coding and have everyone contribute to the larger civic innovation space.

OSDW offered women the opportunity to come together and hone their tech skills, explained Huda Baig, Code for Pakistan’s Karachi rep who, along with ObaidUllah, co-organized the day-long event. CfP is a non-profit focused on building a civic innovation ecosystem to increase citizen engagement and improve public service delivery, by supporting the development of open source mobile and web applications and conducting civic hackathons.

Syed ObaidUllah, Founding Partner, Marketytics, a software and data analytics studio, who volunteered with Code for Pakistan (CfP) to launch OSDW, said:

“A lot of women who have studied may not end up working – open source contributions is a great way for women to become active members of the open source and larger tech community”

Obaidullah estimates Pakistan has about 2,000 active contributors to the Open Source community – entirely too tiny a percentage of the potential the country’s larger tech community has.

Understanding open source:

“In this context, it refers to software with its source code publicly available for people to modify and share”, Baig shared. There are no proprietary, intellectual property related limitations. “However, it is not about just making coding publicly available, but also about collaborative participation and transparency.”

Sharing her experience at OSDW, participant Areej Al Medinah, who’s a first year Electrical Engineering student, said:

“It was very practical – and the workshop taught some valuable skills to help me with open source project contribution”

Only 11% of open source contributions are by women, which may be more of a reflection of the under-representation of women in the industry, ObaidUllah said.

“Women work so hard to acquire an education,” shared Seattle-based Huma Hamid, a Software Engineer and Code for Pakistan volunteer whose idea it was to launch an Open Source Day for Women in the country.

“Women are talented and competent but hold themselves back at an early stage in their lives which results in this huge gender gap in the workforce.”

During the closing ceremony of the event, Sadaffe Abid, Co-Founder, CIRCLE, a Dubai-based women’s leadership development social enterprise, said,

“Technology offers tremendous potential for growth. In Pakistan, there are only 14% women in tech. When women join the economy, not only do they grow, but their families also prosper.

For any country’s prosperity, women play a very important role. Platforms like this are critical because they inspire young women to bring their ideas, expand their networks, encourage them, and connect with role models”

For more information, stay tuned to IDG Pakistan for coverage or visit the Code for Pakistan website.

Image source: Code for Pakistan