Editor’s note: After a social media pause, TechWomen is sharing weekly highlights from the Spring 2022 TechWomen program that began on February 23 and concluded on March 31, 2022.
After five weeks of learning and mentorship, TechWomen 2022 is coming to an end. All along the way, Emerging Leaders have maximized their experience, approaching the hybrid program with a commitment to professional development, mentorship and exchange. Not unlike the preceding weeks, week five was full of activities as Emerging Leaders reflected on their TechWomen experience, made goals for the future and celebrated together at the Farewell Lunch and Community Celebration.
Week five workshops and activities
At Regional Bureau Briefings, Emerging Leaders had the opportunity to speak with representatives from the Department of State’s relevant bureaus in NEA, SCA and AF. There, Bureau representatives shared U.S. priorities for relationships in the region and engaged with Emerging Leaders in a Q&A. Country teams also showcased their action planning efforts, and each team pitched their action plans to Bureau representatives Pen Agnew, Molly L. Stephenson, Karene Steiner, Elizabeth A. Lewis, Samuel Green and Sharon Rose.
The TechWomen Capstone provided a space for Emerging Leaders to reflect on their strengths and experiences throughout the TechWomen program and learn how to leverage these learnings as they move forward in their professional journeys. At #IamRemarkable, a Google initiative empowering women and underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond, Impact Coaches Samantha Raniere and Erin Keeley led Emerging Leaders through a day of sharing and reflection. Together, Emerging Leaders cIn the afternoon sessions, Emerging Leaders discussed their program learnings in breakout rooms, formulating their personalized leadership development plans, setting concrete goals for continuing their development back home.
Farewell Lunch and Certificate Ceremony
After five weeks of learning and exchange, all Emerging Leaders gathered for the first time at the Farwell Lunch, coming together to celebrate their achievements and officially become fellows at the certificate ceremony. After enjoying the Exploratorium’s hands-on exhibits showcasing science, technology and arts, the cohort was hosted in the Exploratorium’s Observatory for the reception. There, Angela Woods and Chris Miner of the U.S. Department of State joined the event, officially welcoming the new fellows as exchange program alumni. Chris Miner opened the day, reminding Emerging Leaders that there can be no democracy, no true peace and no true prosperity without women’s voices. Finally, it was time to become fellows: TechWomen director Katie Zee gave each Emerging Leader her certificate as the cohort cheered each other on, celebrating each new fellow’s hard work, dedication and growth.
Fellows and mentors then had the opportunity to reflect on their experiences with cultural mentorship, professional mentorship and action planning. Fellow Asha of Panyako of Kenya spoke about her learnings as a mentee of a TechWomen alumna, 2015 fellow of Rwanda Marie Claire Murekatete, sharing how working with mentors at Intel expanded supported her work as a business intelligence developer. Marie also shared her own takeaways, speaking about her commitment to lifting up other women. “Mentorship is a passion of my heart,” she said. “When I’m supporting women, I feel very proud.”
Last it was time to announce the 2022 seed grant winners, five country teams that will receive a small grant to implement their action planning projects when they return home. Thank you to VMware for generously sponsoring a seed grant this year! And the winners are…
Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe!
Kyrgyzstan: 57% of educated women in Kyrgyzstan cannot work because of the lack of childcare in the country. Team Kyrgyzstan and their portal, Kamkor, will support working moms by connecting them to childcare. There, mothers will be able to find a nanny for an hour, a day or a month and put a support system in place while building their careers.
Lebanon: The Beirut Blast was the largest non-nuclear explosion in the 21st century. Since then, fuel has become scarce and power outages reach more than 23 hours a day. Team Lebanon and their initiative, Taqa, will provide businesses access to tailored long-term renewable energy solutions such as solar and wind energy, beginning a future for decentralized microgrid power supply around the country.
Nigeria: The Niger Delta is a creek-fishing community that, despite its oil and gas reserves, faces poverty and lack of access to safe, clean water. Team Nigeria and their project, The Walk To Water, will offer solar-powered water systems and holistic training to create access to safe water, saving 3,000 women an average of two hours a day.
Sierra Leone: Freetown, Sierra Leone has a growing plastic waste problem: 1.1 million tons of plastic waste is generated yearly, yet only 5% of that waste is collected. Team Sierra Leone will tackle the country’s waste management crisis by connecting plastic waste collectors, who are mostly women, and waste recycling companies with an online platform.
Zimbabwe: In Zimbabwe, there are two million children under the age of 18 who are not living with either parent. With FOCUS (Feed Our Children Using STEM), Team Zimbabwe will enable children in orphanages to grow nutritious food using aquaponics while empowering them through hands-on skills training and mentorship in food growing.
The action plan process, however, is about much more than seed grant awards: Emerging Leaders’ dedication, courage and ingenuity transcended competition, serving as a true celebration of women leaders and their commitment to change their communities. Best of luck to all 20 country teams in creating high-impact projects in their communities!
And that’s a wrap on TechWomen 2022! It takes a village to deliver a TechWomen program, so thank you to those who make TechWomen a success: our mentors, who went above and beyond to facilitate learning and cultural exchange for our fellows; our fellows who have maximized their experience, leading with curiosity and commitment; our host companies who, with offices closed, have found ways to open their doors so the fellows could visit; and our alumnae, cheering on fellows from back home and offering guidance and advice our mentors. We wish all 109 of our fellows the best of luck as continue to serve as changemakers in their communities. Cheers to TechWomen 2022!