Empowering Through Technology: The Journey of Japnit & Go Girl

Impactful Initiatives
Japnit founded her non profit organization, Go Girl , when she was 15 to empower underprivileged students, introducing over 2000 girls to programming in India. Leading a team of 100 volunteers, she drives impactful initiatives, notably organizing over 1000 free coding and STEM related workshops conducted in regional languages. These workshops help underprivileged students, reaching from urban slums in North India to remote tribal regions in West India.

Academic & Professional Achievements
Currently, Japnit is a fourth-year computer science undergrad at the Ontario Tech University, Canada. Her exceptional contributions to technology, specifically via her non-profit organization called Go Girl organization, have earned her awards and scholarships from Adobe, Cadence, and Zonta. More recently, Japnit also won the Bronze medal at the Women in Tech Global Conference 2023, for her contributions to the global tech community via Go Girl. She has gained industry experience working at TELUS and Coursera, and currently, she leads the startup MAE as CTO, working towards making car buying more inclusive for women.

Speaking Engagements & Public Outreach
Japnit has also delivered two TEDx Talks at prestigious institutions in India and Singapore, spoken at CAN-CWIC in Toronto (one of Canada’s largest women in tech conferences), and the NASA Space Apps Challenge in Edmonton, Canada. With a robust online presence of 20k followers and a reach of millions, Japnit also addresses pressing women’s empowerment issues through social media.

Bridging Gender Gap in STEM
The idea of starting a nonprofit to work towards bridging the gender gap came to Japnit when she noticed minimal representation of women in STEM in her school. Thus, she began the journey of building the Go Girl Organization—a journey fueled by the desire to not only empower herself but also countless other girls who shared similar dreams, and most importantly – to ignite the spark of ambition in those who may not have dared to dream before.

Bringing Innovative Solutions
The journey as a founder hasn’t been easy. She has often faced obstacles in running the non-profit. For instance, a significant one was when she realized that many students she wanted to teach didn’t have access to laptops, highlighting the deep-rooted inequalities in our country. One student couldn’t even conceptualize what a computer could be and thought of it as a TV (the student can now make websites by herself!). This greatly hindered the students’ ability to continue their education effectively. Creatively, the team at Go Girl devised a solution that involved implementing a mobile curriculum, as well as pen and paper activities.

Driving Motivation with Digital Activities
By introducing the mobile curriculum, Japnit aimed to provide students with an introduction to technology, rather than focusing solely on coding. This approach allowed her to reach a larger audience, as approximately 500 kids could easily access the curriculum through their mobile devices. Additionally, for offline workshops, Go Girl enhanced the digital activities by including pen and paper exercises to introduce a rotational system. This system allowed for balanced engagement wherein some students utilized the computer while others honed their coding skills on paper.

Each workshop is uniquely designed. While the organization teaches underprivileged youth in the Hindi regional language at CRY, there’s also Telugu tutors for the girls at Yashoda Foundation. Japnit aims to reach out to various strata of society in the language they understand, keeping their cultural references in mind.

What’s also kept the organization and Japnit going has been the determination of the students themselves. Japnit tries to bring opportunities, and they use it to their best despite the numerous roadblocks that they have to face. Take Rani, for example. She is one of Japnit’s student and hails from a tribal area. To reach the location of the workshop, she has miles to travel but with no access to transport. So, she takes the steps herself. Another student, Shivangi, has reiterated her desire to never stop studying and learning in the workshops. The students’ enthusiasm is Japnit’s biggest motivation.

Future Objectives
Moving forward, Japnit’s future path merges her two passions: technology and women’s empowerment. Japnit strives to not only excel in her field but also inspire the next generation of female software engineers. Her honors thesis project focuses on developing a mobile app to help less-privileged students learn web development and programming. These students often lack computer access but own smartphones. The app enables collaborative offline coding and interactive code engagement. This research directly benefits students in the Go Girl workshops and programs in India.

Conclusion
Japnit’s journey shows how women in technology can bring about positive change, shaping a more inclusive and diverse future. Through her dedication and innovative initiatives, she continues to inspire and empower the next generation of female technologists worldwide.

Japnit Ahuja

Founder & Board Director at Go Girl

I founded my non-profit organization, Go Girl when I was just 15 to empower underprivileged students, introducing over 2000 girls to programming in India. Leading a team of 100 volunteers, I drive impactful initiatives, notably organizing over 1000 free coding and STEM-related workshops conducted in regional languages.

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