AFNOG (African Network Operators Group) held a UNIX system administration and networking workshop for women engineers in East Africa called AFNOG Chix. AFNOG Chix is an annual event under AFNOG that is held in a different African country every year with a goal of training and building capacity for women engineers and network operators with vital upto date knowledge and skills on how to best do their jobs.
The event that occurred from the 10th -15th November 2014 saw various women in ICT from different companies in Uganda come together to share knowledge. The training had an overall objective of enabling the participants to install, upgrade, secure and competently manage the UNIX operating system on standard PC hardware, and use it to provide essential Internet services on a network.
Why UNIX and why CHIX
Since 2000, AFNOG holds an annual event that sees multiple practitioners across the continent congregating to share knowledge and also influence policy on the future of Internet in Africa. These events always had less women even after incentives were put to get more women to attend. They later figured out how to get more women to attend by holding UNIX trainings in different African countries every year. This saw a definite rise in the number of women participating and that is why Afchix focuses on women.
The use of UNIX is basically for the advantages that UNIX has over other operating systems especially because it’s more robust and secure compared to other systems.
Just how Important Is this training?
The huge debate about women in technology aside, it’s a fact that in Africa, there are lesser women in technology for various reasons. Among them, is a general lack of interest probably caused by the patriarchal school of thought that sciences are for the boys and not girls. As that trend is currently changing, undoing the damage done over scores of years will take so much more than women now being able to study the same subjects as men. There is need for a fundamental shift in attitudes too.
We asked Sherry one of the participants on what she has learnt and how she is going to use it and she was very clear on the issue. She runs an internet startup (The Babystore) that sells baby merchandise both online and offline. The business also includes a parenting blog where first time mums and experienced mums still come together to share parenting information.
She came for the training with an interest in APACHE and how to set up a web server so that she can better run her business which she wants to move from proprietary software to her own software that she can better develop and run herself. The UNIX training has equipped her with the knowledge and networks to do just that. Events like this level the playing field for both genders creating more effective competition.
A little about AFNOG
AfNOG is a forum for cooperation and the exchange of technical information between operators of Internet-connected networks in Africa. AfNOG aims at building a community of engineers helping each other operate Internet Infrastructure in Africa, and on the Global Internet as well as promote the discussion of issues relating to implementation of new networks that require community cooperation.
AfNOG has since year 2000 organized their annual Event in a different African country each year.
“While AfNOG fuels the rapid growth of the Internet in Africa with trained technical capacity, our content has been determined by the needs of the community. In so doing AfNOG.s output training capacity has multiplied in the past decade and the community flourished”