From cutting trees and shearing sheep to designing intricate railway systems and architecting houses, few things are impossible—in the world of Minecraft and in real life.
All one needs is perseverance and determination, with a dash of creativity and flexibility.
This was the message DigiGirlz in Indonesia emphasized to its audience of 100 female students from less privileged backgrounds. Held earlier this year on Hari Kartini, a day that celebrates women’s empowerment in the country, the event aimed to inspire participants to explore their full potential, be it in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) or other fields.
As part of the global #MakeWhatsNext initiative, DigiGirlz kicked off with H.E. Dr. Yohana Susana Yembise, Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, sharing her thoughts on the positive roles women can play in society. Accompanied by Ibu Mira Fitra Soetjipto, Human Resources Director, Microsoft Indonesia, and Natalia Soebagjo, a representative of Prestasi Junior Indonesia (PJI) Board, the minister encouraged participants to not be bound by gender stereotypes or their socio-economic status, and instead pursue their dreams with an open mind.
In the second part of the day, the girls visited Microsoft Jakarta’s training facilities and tried their hand at coding via the Hour of Code Minecraft- and Disney’s Frozen- themed coding activities. The young women thoroughly enjoyed their first taste of coding, with many expressing interest in further exploring computer science education.
DigiGirlz was the first in the series of YouthSpark events co-organized by PJI and Microsoft Indonesia. With an overarching theme of “Empowering Youth to Change Their World”, the two organizations ran six events—designed to help high-school students develop problem-solving, computational, and computer science skills—to reach more than 700 youth from less privileged backgrounds, and expose them to the wonders of technology.
“We don’t have access to IT, be it in school or at home. Attending these events really opened our minds to technology and made us think about how we can use it to create our own future,” shared Bisma, a participant of the YouthSpark events.
Two of the events that had students buzzing with excitement were the Idea Generation and Hackathon. At the first event, 500 participants teamed up to develop 100 technology-based ideas that can make the world a better place, and saw finalists presenting their ideas in front of the audience as well as a panel of judges. Meanwhile, 125 students at the Hackathon dived in to create real games based on ideas they previously conceptualized.
“I was really enthusiastic during the Hackathon. It gave me the push I needed to realize that I can create games too,” said a participant named Emilio. “I love playing games, and I hope that in time, I can develop one that brings joy and positivity to everyone who plays it.”
PJI and Microsoft also organized company visits to successful IT startups such as GoJek, Detik.com, and Kudo. Students got the chance to interact with technology professionals, learning that while setting up a business may seem tough, it is a goal within reach when one has the passion to succeed and the right skills.
“We were really heartened by the large number of students who, upon experiencing it for the very first time, showed great interest to learn more about it,” said Esther K. Sianipar, Philanthropies Lead at Microsoft Indonesia. “We want to keep up this momentum. In the near future, we aim to support not only youth-targeted programs, but also those that equip teachers with the skills and confidence needed to integrate IT into their classrooms so that more youth, regardless of backgrounds or genders, can have a chance at pursuing careers that previously seemed impossible.”