Linuxchix Africa

Its name sounds draws instant attention. And Linuxchix Africa – founded in 2004 by African women and for African women -- has got a big goal before it. That is, opening access in what is meant to be a 'free and open' technology sphere but still seems to be attracting only a very few women.

Linuxchix Africa is the Africa chapter of a world-wide group, founded in 1999 by Deb Richardson to offer an alternative to the "locker room mentality" of other Linux User Groups and forums.

Linux, or GNU/Linux, is part of the FOSS network, which has grown impressively to challenge the mainstream, commercial-driven world of proprietorial software.

In Africa, this chapter hopes to help build the critical mass of Linux skills among African women. It will also evangelise the use of FOSS for the many community development challenges being faced by Africans, especially African women.

Free software gives users the freedom to run software, study how it works and adapt it, to redistribute copies, and to improve the program and release improvements to the public so that all benefits. This could help free up scarce rand, kwacha or francs for the larger challenges of development, rather than to pay to some multinational for uncopyable software.

ICT however tends to be still male-dominated, with the world of FOSS even more acutely so. Linuxchix Africa intends to play a catalyst's role that will demystify FOSS to the people who stand to benefit the most from it.

LinuxChix worldwide (www.linuxchix.org) was designed to provide both "technical and social support" for women Linux users, although there are members of the community who are men. Members of the community are referred to as "a Linux chick" (singular) and "LinuxChix" or "Linux Chix" (plural) regardless of gender. There is also another network in Brazil – http://br.linuxchix.org.

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