Welcome to the machine world.

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These are strange times to live in. The line between what’s natural and what is machine is getting thinner and thinner, there is a woman who has all the answers that lives in our phones, our devices can predict what we want to text before we even text it and there’s a machine that lives in the sky that can track our every move.

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More & more companies are making use of chat bots to communicate with customers..

New machinery and software that can do what man can do are being developed every day. Technology has found a way to give financial advice, do accounting, give directions, mix cement and even mine. These technological advancements have been developed to do what man can do in a more efficient and cost effective way. However, they are certain things man can do that machines can’t, for example express empathy.

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I can recall watching the 1997 cult classic, ‘the fifth element’ and failing to accept the idea of flying cars ever being a reality but with recent technological advancements such as autonomous cars AKA self-driving cars, flying cars don’t seem like such a far reach. Pop culture movies which showcase artificial intelligence co-existing with humanity are slowly moving from fiction to non-fiction.

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Technological advancements have changed and influenced every aspect of modern human life. People have benefited a lot from technological advancements and stand to benefit even more. Human beings can use technology to empower themselves and raise awareness about injustices which take place all over the world such as the, #MeToo and #BringBackOurGirls movements. Robotics in the workplace are more efficient in that they bring about more productivity and result in less injuries in the manufacturing sector. Technology advancements have also led to new medicines being developed for illnesses such as paralysis and cancer.

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However , I have read that tech advancements are happening in a faster rate than skills transfer to humans are taking place. Organisations are investing more and more of their money on new software and technology than in hiring and empowering their employees. According to Bernard Condon, ‘ technology will kill middle class jobs’ but studies also show that the fourth industrial revolution will create new job opportunities so this is certainly the time where leaders and citizens of all nations alike must begin to think of solutions and make sure there is a smooth transition into the machine age.

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One of the ways to ensure a peaceful co existence of man and machine is to find an equilibrium, a balance between the two parts by creating people centred machines and systems. It is also very important that we use technology to empower people by making the necessary digital skills attainable, in order for them to take advantage of the new job opportunities which technological advancements create, hence the importance of initiatives such as the Dream Girls Academy and UK-SA tech hub DreamCode BootCamp.

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DreamCode BootCamp: A step towards women empowerment in SA.

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On the 4th of February 2019, Dream Girls Academy along side the UK South Africa Tech Hub launched the month-long DreamCode Boot Camp. The Boot Camp intends to empower 30 young women aged 18 – 35 years old by equipping them with digital, basic coding and personal branding skills.

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The upcoming fourth industrial revolution has resulted in companies across all industries and continents digitizing their businesses, which has resulted in digital skills being in high demand. Digital skills during this revolution make one instantly employable. However, the tech industry is still predominantly a “men’s world” with studies reporting that 80% of tech jobs are held by men. This is due to the discouragement women encounter from a young age and the lack of skills transfer.

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According to StatsSA the South African rate of unemployment among women was 29,5% in the second quarter of 2018 compared to 25,8 % with men. This may look like a slight difference but considering that statistically there are more women than men, the difference in the employment rates show that there are strides South Africa needs to take to ensure gender equality in the South African labour market.

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Employment empowers women because it provides women with control over their own lives, bodies and gives them a valuable voice in the household and economy. According to the United Nations  when more women work, economies grow. Hence, when women receive employment opportunities it is not only beneficial to the one gender but to society. Plus, women spend a larger percent of their income in the household and are more likely to give to charity organisations.

Programmes such as the DreamCode BootCamp are very important for our society not only because they may or may not lead to employment and boost our economy. Women empowerment programmes are important because they help the beneficiaries realize their potential and open up their world to new people and new experiences. Most importantly, programmes that organisations like Dream Girls Academy offer will hopefully inspire the beneficiaries to invest their time and energy in empowering their own communities.

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