Since 2018, we have conducted 12 training programmes for young and early-career women in geospatial information technology (GIT), reaching over 1,490 women across the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH). The 2023 iteration of our flagship ‘Empowering women in geospatial information technology’ training successfully built the capacities of over 642 women from across the HKH region.
While significant progress has been made in Earth observation (EO) and GIT, opening doors for novel ideas in the spatial sciences, decision-making, natural resource management, and landscape mapping, women remain underrepresented in these fields despite their crucial role in environmental management and decision-making. This gender disparity is particularly stark in the HKH region.
We launched the concept of ‘Women in GIT’ (WoGIT) to emphasise the role of women in EO and GIT. The WoGIT initiative seeks to provide significant growth opportunities for women professionals and encourages them to pursue careers in EO and GIT. The aim is to empower women to take on leadership roles in this field and reduce the gender gap in the EO/GIT sector across the HKH region. First conducted in Nepal, the WoGIT concept has now expanded to all HKH countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, and Pakistan.
GIT refers to using technologies to collect, store, analyse, and visualise spatial or geographic data about observing the Earth’s surface and human activity. Participants learned about key concepts and how to use applications that depend on EO data and GIT.
The impact of the training on the participants’ scientific knowledge on EO and GIT and their applications is outstanding, revealing a transformative shift in their understanding of the subject matter. Before the training, most participants needed foundational knowledge on concepts of EO and GIT and various applications – 12% for intermediate, 30% for basic knowledge, 55% expressed no knowledge, and only 3% claimed advanced knowledge.
The most notable transformation is the significant shift of 51% of participants from no knowledge to intermediate and advanced levels. This remarkable change not only underlines the effectiveness of the training in enhancing participants’ scientific knowledge but also implies a profound impact on their confidence and competence in the subject. Moreover, the training has played a pivotal role in equipping participants with a solid foundation, fostering a positive trajectory toward advanced understanding, and contributing to the overall advancement of scientific knowledge within the cohort.
A comprehensive assessment of their technical skills before the training showed that most participants lacked confidence in exploring EO and GIS data, using platforms such QGIS to process and analyse vector and raster data. However, the post-training evaluation reveals a transformative shift, with a substantial increase in participants expressing high and moderate confidence levels.
This positive change indicates the training programme’s effectiveness and signifies a tangible contribution to building a foundation for women in the EO/GIT sector in the HKH countries. The impact is not only measured in skill enhancement but also in fostering newfound confidence and competence among these young women, paving the way for their active participation and leadership in the rapidly evolving field of EO and GIT.