Why is it important?

Hello! My name is Marija Musja. I grew up in Estonia just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a child, I was led to believe that creativity in the workplace has no value. So as an adult I chose a career – the law – that is highly valuable to society but which did not allow me to express myself.

For a few years I had the privilege of studying in the United Kingdom. During this time, my perception of creative thinking changed completely and I discovered that I had the freedom to be who I really wanted to be and do what I really wanted to do.

But I also knew that I was one of the lucky ones. Too many girls from disadvantaged communities don’t have an opportunity to realise their potential and are unable or not allowed to express their creative energy. Often they become vulnerable to physical and mental abuse and even to drug and alcohol dependence.

Content

So how do we change this? How do we make sure that the girls of today are able to express themselves and be creative so that they can become the successful and dynamic women of tomorrow?

We live in the digital age. Without the knowledge and skills of digital technology, many people are left behind, unable to fulfil their potential in life. Girls are especially vulnerable to this as digital expertise is usually seen as the preserve of boys and men. Yet the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector continues to grow across the world and a shortage of specialists is a golden opportunity for girls everywhere.

«Creativity in Code» Project

That’s why I’ve set up the «Creativity in Code» project. The project marries the two essential elements that can transform the lives of young girls: it encourages them to be creative and it trains them in digital skills up to a professional level.

Creativity in Code aims to empower poor girls in remote areas of Ukraine by providing free classes – for two-and-half months – on both programming and creative technology software.

In the EU, 80% of women want creative, independent jobs. According to our survey, in Ukraine 1% of girls are interested in programming and the majority of jobs they aspire are creativity related.

We encourage girls with a wide variety of interests to join our course and study programming for many different career fields. What makes it unique, and particularly suited to girls, is that the project’s focus is on combining girls’ interests with technology.

Content

We started our first course at the beginning of November in a small town in the Odessa region of Ukraine.

WHAT WE HAVE DONE ALREADY:

• Built a partnership with a local education institution • Provided computers • Engaged a teacher to lead the course • Developed a curriculum that can be taught by different teachers

Eight girls (14 years old) have started the course and even more want to join – but at the moment we simply don’t have enough resources to be able to help them.

SO WE’VE MADE A GREAT START. BUT NOW WE WOULD REALLY LOVE YOUR HELP TO:

• Expand the course to reach another 30 girls in the next nine months • Develop an e-learning platform with workshops on creative technology software in the next nine months

HAVE SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED THE COURSE, EACH STUDENT WILL HAVE A PERSONAL WEBPAGE REFLECTING HER INTERESTS, CREATIVITY AND PERSONALITY; AND

THE FOLLOWING SET OF SKILLS:

• Website development • Creating & editing images • Publishing production (posters, brochures, magazines etc.) • Creating logos & graphics

AFTER THE COURSE WE:

• Encourage the students to continue their studies online • Track their progress and build a community of former students

ANOTHER OBJECTIVE OF THE PROJECT IS TO CONNECT GIRLS WITH FEMALE ROLE MODELS. SO

• All online workshops are run by female professionals • Girls students are able to contract role models • Girls students can communicate build projects together

The e-learning platform will be available in Russian. Our long-term goal is to expand the course to all Russian-speaking countries to give as many girls as possible an opportunity for a better future.

THE MONEY WILL BE USED TO:

• Hire more teachers to expand the course • Hire a developer to build e-learning platform • Download Adobe Software for students • Hire Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator software specialists • Pay for traveling expenses

WORKSHOPS IN GENEVA

The project will seek financial sustainability by also offering Creativity in Code classes for local communities in Switzerland.

We start by offering different workshops in Geneva for both adults and children. All the workshops will take place during a five-month period at Impact Hub Geneva. Groups will be formed depending on the age of participants.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, REQUESTS OR RECOMMENDATIONS, WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.

«Creativity in Code» project won the Community Prize of Social Impact Award organised by Impact Hub Geneva.