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  • Laura Mugeha, Jomo Kenyatta University in Kenya

Mapping bridges the gap.

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

October 11 is marked as the International Day of the Girl (IDG). The day is aimed at empowering and investing in the girl child as a step towards eliminating the discrimination and violence they face. This day is dedicated to providing different opportunities for girls everywhere to show leadership and reach their full potential.

Let Girls Map is a YouthMappers campaign that compliments the United Nations initiative. The campaign, which is active from International Women’s Day, March 8 to International Day of the Girl , October 11, features mapping activities that are intended to offer support to women and girls issues, and in effect foster a worldwide community for female student mappers.

Girls’ education and women’s health have been statistically proven to empower a nation’s development. Also, studies have shown that economic productivity is hinged on women’s access to health services. Mapping bridges the gap by adding openly available spatial data on the location of schools and clinics. OpenStreetMap, the people’s map, has made this knowledge accessible making it easy to access the best of schools and health services.

On this day, we organized a mapathon where female student mappers came together to make a difference in their country, and the world at large through their mapping efforts handling a task that focused on Siaya County, a region that borders Lake Victoria. The exercise mapped buildings and roads for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. The long-term impact that the exercise would provide necessary data to the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program to find and help those suffering from HIV/AIDS. The initiative would be able to identify the location of communities and how they are connected by roads to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services in the area. By understanding the program coverage, the initiative is in a better position to optimize their supply chain logistics, which in effect, would help them meet their mandate.

The day was a complete success for everyone who took part in the activities. Not only did we celebrate the girl child, but we also got to network as female student mappers and used the skills we have acquired over time to make a change and impact the world. The entire concept behind the International Day of the Girl was achieved and everyone left empowered to reach their full potential as girls.

As a society, we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunities created by Dr. Patricia Solís, Dr. Nuala Cowan and Carrie Stokes. Their quest to make the world a better place through the Youth Mappers program has empowered many, challenging them to grow further leaving a mark in the world. We salute you and we appreciate you.

Laura Mugeha is a student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's in Geomatics Engineering and Geospatial Information Systems with a focus in GIS and technology. She is also a social media enthusiast and believes in tapping it's effect to help solve day to day problems.

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