By Kalpana Bhandari
Code for Nepal Fellow, 2014

It is seldom a choice to think what a country needs. Let me rephrase that, what an “underdeveloped” country, like Nepal, needs. Food, water, electricity, regulated traffic, human rights, animal rights, literacy, law, constitution, you name it.

But what one, usually, fails to see is what lies behind half the population- the population that thrives to be treated equally, the population that is constantly fighting to grow out of prejudices, a population who, although ignored, can both hold back a society or set it on a progressive path.

And for such important part of the population, the women, it is of utmost necessity to move along the line of men so that they are heard, and make a difference for those who aren’t.

Anyone is capable of doing anything, whether men or women, anything. And yet, there is a huge gap between the two genders. I am a woman and educated as much as any other man in my country, grew up with same “just” things any man is entitled too- a good school, a university, an internationally accredited degree, and yet, “less empowered”.

When I say empowered, Nepal might as well make more of women empowerment through education, health benefits, or employment for that matter. Here I introduce my experience with Code For Nepal 2014, a mission to digitally empower women. Digitally- is it that important? Well yes. Digital empowerment is a must now that everything is mobile and whole world is moving with the Internet.

Code for Nepal 2014 was hosted by a team who materialised their vision in the US. Shortly after application process and selection of fellows, the 10-day programme started on July 21.

The first week of the program basically introduced different forms of social media to 21 women fellows. The classes were already at fast track since day one- introduction to class followed by digital toolkit session by Rajneesh Bhandari where the fellows were familiarised with multimedia toolkits like Twitter, Storify, SoundCloud, Wikipedia and usage of different applications on mobile.

All of these apps were module of one reason- how these tools helped us communicate, be journalists and influence a larger crowd. In fact, with all these programmes, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that almost everyone, all over the world, using the Internet is within our access and create a butterfly effect.

The training proceeded with sharing entrepreneurial experiences, blogging, tweeting, social media management, coding and data wrapping from various professionals. The programme also addressed to individuals, the participants, sessions on how to move past old ways and adapt to new things.

The program also highlighted how one could brush their interpersonal skills whether public speaking or starting small and working diligently to achieve success. The inspirational stories from new and experienced speakers, all coming together for one purpose- empower women digitally- was a much needed boost to those, us, who think that if we don’t do something, someone else will.

After the training concluded, although the team returned back to resume to their old lives- they left back an impression to fellows- to do something. Code for Nepal fellows is more active in social media now, exploring and educating others about digital media through Code for Nepal funded grants.

There were 21 women, from 21 professional and personal backgrounds, and Code for Nepal made us believe that change is one person a time.