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BRAVE10: Nurul Hussain on CNA938

The XX Files by Yasmin Yonkers

· Press,Blog,Women,Southeast Asia

Yasmin Jonkers: This is The XX Files. I have used her stories on CNA938. My name's Yasmin Yonkers. Thank you so much for your time and I hope you are enjoying a bit of a break before National Day parade tomorrow. Make sure you watch the parade and make sure you listen to the prime minister speech as well, should be some interesting nuggets there that will inspire us. So we just don't want girls in tech. We know that the road is not always smooth. There's even a book to document the challenges, the trials, the perils. It was launched on Saturday. It's called BRAVE10. It highlights the journeys and struggles of 10 Singaporean tech founders, and leaders. One of them joins us. Her name is Nurul Jihadah Hussain. She's the founder of The Codette Project. She helps local minority and Muslim women break into the tech space. Nurul Jihadah joins us now. Hi, how are you? 

Nurul Jihadah Hussain: Hi Yasmin, thanks so much for having me on the show. 

Yasmin Jonkers: Oh, what a pleasure. So you are one of the women featured in the book, I take it?

Nurul Jihadah Hussain: Yes, I am.

Yasmin Jonkers: Congratulations. 

Nurul Jihadah Hussain: Thank you. 

Yasmin Jonkers: So, talk to us about why you deserved to be there. What was the point you wanted to make by appearing in this book? 

Nurul Jihadah Hussain: That's a great question. I was really honored to be part of the book. I wanted to really tell people about my journey as a leader and as a tech advocate, including the parts that aren't so nice, the parts that are pretty difficult. And for me, it was also a real learning experience to, kind of, read the book, to read other people's experiences and how other people have journeyed as leaders. I hope that when people read it, people are able to see not just the challenges of being a founder of a startup in Southeast Asia, but also to learn from our experiences and be able to say, "Well, hey, I feel that too."

Yasmin Jonkers: Okay. What's the biggest, most challenging part for women in the tech space then?

Nurul Jihadah Hussain: For women in the tech space specifically, it's... the challenges are not unique to tech, but tech is the most level playing field for individual economic development. By that, I mean that as long as you're literate and you have access to the internet, there's something that you're gonna be able to learn to find that you can do to help you get to the next level of success. So if you're a small business owner, you can go online and learn for free how to do better ads on Facebook and Instagram and Google Ads. If you're a student, you can learn skills outside, what's offered in your course. If you're a stay-at-home mom looking at, how can you go get back into the career game? There's that as well. That's gonna allow more women access into the tech industry and more growth.

Yasmin Jonkers: Mm. And Nurul, you work to help minority women break into tech. Can you give us a sense of who they are and what are the roadblocks that they face? 

Nurul Jihadah Hussain: Sure. So we estimate that about 80% of our community are women who identify as minority Muslim with at at least a Polytechnic diploma and a smartphone .

Yasmin Jonkers: Mm-hmm.

Nurul Jihadah Hussain: So you have the other 20%. For us that's as important because those are allies. Those are the people who attend often as a friend or a family group, or a supporter. About 50% of the hackathon, attendees are minority women, which means that actually, what we do is building an inclusive community to get everyone together, to work towards more inclusion, more representation, and more diversity in the tech industry.

Yasmin Jonkers: Alright. Can you talk to us about a key contribution perhaps that minority women have made to the tech industry that perhaps we've overlooked or doesn't get mentioned very much. 

Nurul Jihadah Hussain: So we had the first exhibition, physically, a photo exhibition of underrepresented women in tech stories earlier this year. That was in March and it was launched by our president, Madam Halimah Yacob. So we featured the stories of faith, events, successful minority and Muslim women in tech. That's just a small portion of the women we know who are achieving success in this industry, but we really wanted to underline that the stories we tell of success and who gets to be successful, who do we think of when we think of success need to be more diverse in order to encourage more people to believe that they too can be successful. And for us to have a more diverse idea as to when we think of who's successful who do we actually think of? 

Yasmin Jonkers: Mm-hmm. The president. She's one good example. Nurul, we've got some great role models, of course, in the book that you're featured with, BRAVE10. Right? So that's nice. I hope that book does well. How do you plan to use the profits from the book sale? 

Nurul Jihadah Hussain: Yeah, so in the BRAVE10 book launch, the work that we do, the Minister, Alvin Tan, he described it as bridging. I think that that's a very good description of what we are trying to do. So what we are trying to do is really create better systems and better roads to success for underrepresented women, especially minority and Muslim women. So we're fully volunteering. It's all gonna go to our projects. It's gonna go to workshops as well as our programs like Codette Cares and that's our current scholarship program in its third iteration that we started during the COVID pandemic.

Yasmin Jonkers: Mm-hmm.

Nurul Jihadah Hussain: That's supporting women of all ages who are studying tech-related courses through both funding and mentorship. So that's hopefully where the funds will go. It's a great book. So there's that as well. I hope people support it. 

Yasmin Jonkers: Okay. I can't wait to flip through it. Thank you so much for talking to us about this book and congrats on being featured.

Nurul Jihadah Hussain: Thank you so much. Have a great day! 

Yasmin Jonkers: You too. Nurul Jihadah Hussain, my guest on The XX Files, founder of The Codette Project, she helps local minority and Muslim women break into the tech space. We've got news in just a while and we are gonna talk caregiving next.

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