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News — 28 March, 2018

Empowering female mappers in Nigeria

Guest blog from LetGirlsMap, UniqueMappersTeam, Nigeria - Alooma Jennifer, Dike Chinecherem, Ebere Emmanuella

This Year’s International Women’s Day was actively celebrated by the LetGirlsMap wing of UniqueMappersTeam in Nigeria.

Through detailed planning and generous donations, the team pulled together to produce banners and flyers to promote the event. Among the planning committee were: Mrs.Ijeoma Stephanie Oladele, Surv.Mrs.Ezebube, Mrs.Slyvia Egbom, Mrs.Amarachi Uzo-Totty, Miss Salome, Baripdapsi Nyiaghan, Blessing Oshoma and others. Planning took place via meetings and chats on Whatsapp to eventually decide the theme of the event – ‘Geospatial technology: The solution for women’s transformation’.

Victor N.Sunday(Team Coordinator/Mentor) and LetGirlsMap Team Leaders:UniqueMappersTeam

Prior to the event, the Youth mappers published an article from our YouthMappers Chapter, titled: “To #LetGirlsMap for socio-economic development and vulnerable community response is sacrosanct! written by the Our Team Secreatry General, Blessing Oshoma. The Ag director of LetGirlsMap also took it upon herself to produce sample T-shirts that would help the Team mobilize funds. She travelled to Aba, a major commercial town in Nigeria to design the T-shirts.

Blessing Oshoma (TSG) and Ifeoma Ononiwu(Ag-Director, LetGirlsMap)UniqueMappersTeam

On Friday, 9th March, our team members and registered participants all gathered at the venue for this exciting global event. Faith Umuokoro gave an opening speech on what mapping is and the reason for the event. She also spoke about open source online mapping platforms and emphasized the need for female participation in OpenStreetMap. While introducing the YouthMappers Network, she noted that, YouthMappers Chapters have now reached over 120 chapters. UniqueMappersTeam-University of Port Harcourt, is one of these YouthMappers Chapter and formed in 2017 with a sub-unit called LetGirlsMap. As the name implies, activities of LetGirlsMap is made up of female mappers on the campus. This team was specially created for females only, to ensure that female gender inclusion increases within OpenStreetMap community and humanitarian mapping sector. Another reason for this special focus on female participation is that over the years, women have not had access to the same educational opportunities. In recent times, as society has identified the need for improved women’s education, this team is helping to get girls involved in mapping to learn new skills as well as to get involved in the humanitarian mapping of vulnerable women. One advantage of this mapping training is that it increases job opportunities and employability since, as a mapper, you need to be able to map places, identify and gather necessary information, process data, and share to the relevant stakeholders for development solutions. There are several special opportunities that are attached to this organization which includes; easy internship placements, Graduate training programs, and scholarships. In her conclusion, Blessing Oshoma said that the team is not restricted to geographical students only but other departments are also welcome. The importance of formal registration by students is that after graduation the YouthMappers headquarters in the USA issues certificates of membership and participation to team members.

The Team Secretary General, Blessing Oshoma, of the UniqueMappersTeam presented a poem after her main talk, titled the “Phenomenal Women” by Myer Angelo. She also gave a motivational speech about women putting the best into whatever they do and trying to achieve gender equality in all spheres of life. She said that women should rise up to become great achievers.

Afterwards, Ifeoma Ononiwu, took over to introduce key members of the team such as the secretary general, the treasurer, financial secretary, technical unit and assistant media personnel. Some participants were also from other departments such as Linguistics and Communication studies, Animal and Environmental Biology, Biomedical Technology, Petroleum Engineering and the Geography Department.

Faith Umuokoro speaking to the Girls on the reasons behind Geospatial Technology, OSM and International Women’s Day

Ifeoma continued with an interactive session on “OSM: the voice for vulnerable women”. She explained some important key points attached to mapping. First of all, she began with the sub-theme;

“WHY DO WE MAP?”

  • To locate places and features, measure places

  • To solve spatial problems

  • To describe and show the shape of features, describe various phenomena.

OSM (OPEN STREET MAP)

OpenStreetMap is a free editable map of the world. It enables editing and updating features on the earth’s surface.

Ifeoma Ononiwu speaking interactively on OSM: the Voice for Vulnerable women

FACTORS WHICH WOMEN ARE VULNERABLE TO IN NIGERIA INCLUDES:

  • Fulani herdsmen attacks in the North Central

  • Kidnapping in the South

  • Female Genital Mutilation

  • Domestic violence

  • Early marriage

Through OSM, we can know the number of vulnerable women in any area and tackle the problems they face.

Afterwards, the practical section commenced which entailed mapping out vulnerable communities of women through OpenStreetMap. Due to the internet and technology issues the practical session was postponed until Friday 16th March and was done via peer-learning groups. Finally, our Team Coordinator and mentor, Mr. Victor Sunday, shed more light on using OpenStreetMap and the reasons for humanitarian mapping activities by LetGirlsMap, Youthmappers and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.

Mr Victor Sunday and his LetGirlsMap Team leaders leaving the venue of the event

A week later, as agreed, we all gathered at the GIS Lab of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Port Harcourt to register our event on OSM #YouthMappers#UniqueMappersTeam#LetGirlsMap#International Women Day. The team mapped tasks for FGM prevention in Tanzania as well as local tasks. Most importantly, our excited new team members had the opportunity to sign up for OSM user-names as well as see practically, the fun of mapping with OSM.

Participants at the International Women’s Day Event

We look forward that with the recent volunteer-mentorship of Jess, Rebecca Firth and others, our LetGirlsMap team of UniqueMappersTeam will continue to be a vibrant and high performance YouthMappers Chapter. We hope forward that our Whatsaap chat group - LetGirlsMap - will continue to be the fastest growing social media community focusing on female gender inclusion for OSM in Nigeria and beyond! The challenges ahead include breaking technology barriers such as laptops, internet routers, and GPS, as well as effectively supporting our female team members’ Ph.D research projects mapping with OSM. Out Team Coordinator - Mr.Victor N.Sunday, our Faculty Advisor - Professor J.E.Umeuduji, and our passionate team leaders are all doing the best within their capacity to ensure that geospatially, we ladies are being transformed and press4progress. LetGirlsMap as we Press4Progress this 2018!

Emmanuella, Chinecherem and Jennifer