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Alibaba Cloud aims to teach one million women to code by 2030

Through partnerships, Alibaba Cloud plans to teach one million women to code by 2030, as well as tackle other social challenges

Alibaba Cloud has partnered with iamtheCODE to create an initiative focused on teaching one million women and girls to code by 2030.

The initiative, part of a wider movement dubbed Tech for Change, will give female programmers in marginalised areas access to online training and cloud computing resources.

The cloud computing division of Alibaba Group launched Tech for Change to encourage collaboration and partnerships aimed at promoting social good and tackling social challenges.

Wanli Min, chief machine intelligence scientist at Alibaba Cloud, said among these social challenges the firm hopes to tackle are inequality in education, equal access to healthcare, sustainable agriculture and protecting wildlife.

“By making technology more accessible and affordable, we can inspire creativity and nurture the next generation of game-changers who will make our world a better place,” he said.

Many believe that to develop initiatives aimed at tackling problems such as skills gaps or lack of equality, collaboration is essential.

Alibaba Cloud has called for partnerships between enterprises, startups and entrepreneurs to come up with ideas for tackling social challenges, and Alibaba Cloud will offer its partners access to its technology, mentors within the business and its education programmes, such as Alibaba Cloud Academy and its AI competition platform Tianchi.

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Min said the hope is to “bring together creativity and innovation” to tackle common issues worldwide, and claimed: “We are calling for everyone to join forces and be part of the Tech for Change global community.

“As an advocate for applying technologies for the social good, we believe affordable cloud infrastructure and accessible intelligent technologies have the potential to enable smaller organisations to make huge differences in creating a better world for all humankind,” he said.

Its initial partnership with iamtheCODE, focused on teaching a million women to code over the next 10 years, free courses from Alibaba Cloud will be provided to women online covering topics such as cloud computing, data analysis, machine learning and security.

Not only is encouraging more diversity in the technology industry the right thing to do, there are also theories that allowing those in the minority access to technology careers could help to close growing technology skills gaps.

The iamtheCODE movement is African-led, and aimed at globally equalising access to science, technology engineering, maths, entrepreneurship and design (STEAMED) education by gaining support from government, private sector and investors, and currently already offers a “blended curriculum” awarding certificates to participants to help them pursue a more technical career path.

But a lack of access to technology is a common barrier for entry for those from underprivileged backgrounds.

Access to technology

The iamtheCODE curriculum is already used by around 13,000 girls, operating in 64 countries, giving young women and girls access to technology through Digital Clubs, where women can come to use and learn about technology, hackathons and mentorship programmes.

Giving its initiatives access to Alibaba Cloud technology will help iamtheCODE to engage with even more people, according to iamtheCODE founder Mariéme Jamme.

“Having its foothold in 64 countries, iamtheCODE is delighted to partner with Alibaba Cloud to engage more young women and girls from the most disadvantaged background in the world and use its technology to change their lives,” she said.

“For iamtheCODE, priorities are to use technology to change the lives of young women entrepreneur through tech, to create employability and to equip them with the digital skills of the future.”

Tech for Change joins some of the other efforts Alibaba Cloud has made to try and use technology for social good, including partnering with many small and medium-sized enterprises on social cause projects, and the development of its “technical philanthropy platform” Green Code which connects volunteers skills in IT with not-for profit philanthropy programmes.

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