The GIS (Geographic Information Systems) space in Kenya is a relatively new field, encompassing the field of geospatial information including Geospatial Information Systems.
Caroline Akoth and May Kitiyo, the co-founders of Women in GIS (WiGIS) Kenya, were interviewed on the Wamathai Podcast on their work in building a community of women in GIS. WiGIS Kenya is a non-profit that aims at creating a community of visionary women in Geospatial Technlogy to bridge the gender divide in use of technology.
Professionals in the GIS space have knowledge and skills in the techniques for spatial data acquisition, processing, manipulation, analysis, modeling and dissemination. This results in data and information that can be visualized in various forms and used to support decisions for problems that are location related.
In a rather male dominated field, Mary Kitiyo, co-founder and Strategy Lead WiGIS Kenya, said that their initiative has worked with organizations such as Metta, to bring to life the vision of a GIS women community. “We founded the initiative to bring together women professionals in the field, to build talent and encourage uptake of STEM courses in Kenya. Our mission is to create a community of visionary women in Geospatial Technology to to bring more women in the field, and to celebrate women in GIS and encourage other women and girls involvement in the field,” she added.
On her part, Caroline, co-founder and Advocacy and Operations Lead of the initiative said, “By the time we were starting, there wasn’t a clear trajectory of people in our industry. None of us knew what exactly we could specialize in. We did not have broader conversations on the opportunities that were available. Over time, however, we have been able to work in diverse areas like retail. The initiative has helped us build on a base and foundation to help us branch out and diversify in the market.”
WiGIS Kenya has also participated in diverse social gatherings, professional development and education events for networking and mentoring. WiGIS Kenya has worked on various projects that include GBV Prevalence Mapping, and Data Visualization challenges for their community. WiGIS Kenya also collaborated with the Ministry of Health, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), and ESRI Eastern Africa to develop a COVID-19 status dashboard for Kenya.
Caroline and May further called on other people in Tech and GIS to join the movement to create awareness around the community and its role in the community. They have also encourage new graduates, both male and female, to join them and help in the growth of their industry.
You can listen to the whole conversation on the Wamathai Podcast below: