Impact Stories from Education Diplomacy/Mentoring Policy Area
Fellows debut STEM empowerment project Heya Caravan
Fellow(s): Salma Bekkouche, Amel Djenidi, Fatima Zohra Benhamida, Amina Salesse
Cohort: 2017, 2018, 2020-2021
After TechWomen 2018, fellows Salma Bekkouche and Amel Djenidi began working with 2017 fellow Fatima Zohra Benhamida to create Heya Caravan, a project that empowers girls and women through STEM education. After securing a grant from the U.S. Embassy Algiers’ Alumni Small Grant Competition in 2019 – and after delays caused by the pandemic – the fellows, with 2020-2021 fellow Amina Salesse as a new team member, launched Heya Caravan in Hassi Messaoud last month, bringing a day of workshops, talks and networking opportunities to women in the region. Heya (Arabic for “She”) Caravan collaborated with local STEM leaders, inviting them to share their career paths in STEM, host Q&A’s and deliver workshops meant to educate and empower the professionals and students in attendance. In Fatima’s session, “Which hat would you like to wear?” she spoke about her journey in higher education as an assistant professor at the National School of Computer Science, her diverse work experience and her mission to combat stereotypes of women in technical fields. In a leadership workshop, participants learned about different leadership styles and their respective strengths and weaknesses. The day concluded with Q&A session themed on mental health challenges and work-life balance during the pandemic. “From preparation to the event itself to the post-event parts…every single task we made with love, and enjoyed it to the extreme,” said Amina. The Heya Caravan team hopes to replicate the programming in other Algerian cities as well as create online content for community members. “I’m proud to see the project become a reality after almost three years full of challenges,” said Salma.
Report Date...: 5/2/2022
Fellow brings STEM training to girls in Ethiopia and Tanzania
Fellow(s): Amanda Obidike
2022 fellow Amanda Obidike recently launched STEMNovation, a STEM initiative that trains girls in mobile app development, 3D modeling, 3D printing and basic computer skills. Amanda is a data scientist, general manager for the Sir Emeka Okwuosa Foundation and founder of STEMi Makers Africa, an organization that trains young Africans with 21st century skills. She was recently named to the Most Distinguished African Women Changemakers list by Humanitarian Awards Global. Last month, STEMi Makers launched STEMNovation’s first bootcamp in Tanzania and Ethiopia, bringing young female students through training courses that will prepare them for STEM careers. At the Ethiopia bootcamp, supported by Addis Ababa University and Abugida Robotics Technology Center, girls ages 10-16 learned about computer software, coding and 3D modeling. At the bootcamp’s conclusion, trainees demonstrated their work for other students, parents and community supporters. In Tanzania, STEMi Makers partnered with the Timizandoto Initiative and dLab to support 40 girls in Dar es Salaam with training on AI, drone technologies and data analytics. “We understand that the increasing demand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are vital to the development and economic growth of a nation,” said STEMi Makers. “As such, women and girls should not be left behind.”Read More »
Report Date...: 5/2/2022
Fellow selected as youth speaker at UN event
Fellow(s): Tala Qawasmi
Country: Palestinian Territories
2022 fellow Tala Qawasmi was a featured speaker at the 2022 United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, joining the Arab States Region breakout session to discuss supporting youth in developing their skills and finding job opportunities. ECOSOC is focused on advancing economic, social and environmental sustainable development. Their 2022 Youth Forum, “COVID-19 recovery: Youth taking action for a sustainable future,” brought together youth to contribute their ideas and innovations to create sustainable change. Tala is a Geographic Information System (GIS) expert at Preventative Security, an intelligence service of the Palestinian Territories. She previously collaborated with the UNDP to create Get That Job, an initiative that addressed youth unemployment in her community by connecting new graduates with consultants to support with training and job services. At the Youth Forum, Tala shared her story, the challenges she has overcome and how she has made an impact in youth unemployment. Although Get That Job did not officially launch, Tala will soon merge the platform with Josour, the social impact initiative she created alongside her country team during TechWomen 2022. Josour, which means “bridge,” will support women and youth with soft skills training and provide resources on local and international opportunities. “When I worked with my team during TechWomen, I thought it would be better to have this platform in-person and focus on all soft skills that not only fresh graduates need but also students in colleges and schools,” said Tala. “These two initiatives have the same goal. UNDP and Sharek Youth Forum are our partners now and will cooperate with us to make this project a success.”Read More »
Report Date...: 4/25/2022
Fellows recognized for their LinkedIn leadership
Fellow(s): Zeenat Anjum, Asna Javed
2019 fellows Zeenat Anjum and Asna Javed were named to the 2022 Top 20 Most Influential Pakistani Women on LinkedIn list, recognized for their leadership and LinkedIn writings that share their experiences as women in technology. The list was created by Connected Women Pakistan, a women’s empowerment social enterprise. Zeenat is the founder of Digiwrite, a community where freelancers can share their experiences and best practices in their industries. Recently, Digiwrite has branched out to include job creation and training services. “The vision further extends to Digiwrite facilitating women who want to enter the freelancing or entrepreneurship domain and do not have the direction to earn active or passive income,” said Zeenat in her feature. Asna, a data and AI technical sales specialist at IBM Pakistan, speaks about her TechWomen 2019 mentorship at LinkedIn in her spotlight: “I was taught a number of things but one of the key takeaways for me was ‘If you have done/achieved something, talk about it. You are not showing off, you are only stating the facts.’ This has helped me tremendously in my career and personal branding. I started sharing things that I learned and achieved on LinkedIn which did not just give me visibility but also inspired many other men and women in the IT sector.”Read More »
Report Date...: 4/25/2022
Fellow featured for mentoring and inspiring women in STEM
Fellow(s): Natsai Mutezo
2018 fellow Natsai Mutezo was featured in a news story from bird, a story agency from Africa No Filter that combats stereotypical and harmful news about Africa through featuring stories of changemakers who are uplifting their communities and leading in their industries. Natsai, a paint manufacturing specialist, chemical technologist and innovation consultant, was featured for her commitment to bringing more women and girls into STEM fields. In the article, Natsai spoke about her many experiences as one of the few women in her field: she was one of four women in her university’s chemical technology course, the only woman paint chemist at Astra Paints and the only woman in the manufacturing department at Dulux Paints. Because of her experiences, Natsai is determined to bring more women and girls into STEM fields and change the ratio of women in chemistry in Zimbabwe. Throughout her career, she has mentored women who are new to the field, supporting them with their goals and helping them progress in their careers. “In my own small way, I see every interaction with a STEM professional who is early in their career, who works under me or works with me for any reason, as an opportunity for mentorship,” she said. Natsai also spoke about her TechWomen experience, including her participation in TechWomen’s 2019 delegation trip to Sierra Leone. During a day of STEM mentorship and inspirational talks with girls from local schools, Natsai met a student who she began to mentor and continues to mentor to this day; the student is now studying mechanical and aerospace engineering. In addition to mentorship, Natsai hopes to get involved in policymaking, helping women lead at the forefront of innovation: “We need to solve problems that are unique to Africa, but we are only going to do that through innovation,” she said. Natsai was featured for her dedication to bringing more women into her fieldRead More »
Report Date...: 4/11/2022
Mentor(s): Jeannice Samani
TechWomen mentor Dr. Jeannice Fairrer Samani recently spoke at a capacity-building session at the WELLTI Summit in Dubai, joining a panel that shared their careers in technology, their experiences with cross-border collaboration and the role that technology plays in empowering women. WELLTI, or Women Empowered Leave Legacies through Trade and Investment, is an initiative of the International Trade Administration’s Middle East and Africa Regional Office. Their 2022 Summit brought together women-owned and women-led businesses to connect, network and learn about resources available for doing business in the MENA region. Dr. Samani is the executive information technology architect for Fairrer Samani Group as well as the founding director of Fifth Wave STEaM Education Initiative. In the panel, she spoke about her early interest in technology, sharing her experience as the only girl learning to code in a special program in high school. In addition to sharing the Fairrer Samani group’s dedication to agility, diversity and curiosity, Dr. Samani spoke about the future of AI and the need for it to be both inclusive and ethical. “Diversity is at the forefront of it,” she said. “We need more people of color, and we need more women.” ALUMNARead More »
Report Date...: 4/11/2022
Fellows travel to London for Goldman Sachs Fellowship
Fellow(s): Oluremi Hamid, Lamia Fikrat
Country: Morocco, Nigeria
Cohort: 2016, 2019
2016 fellow of Nigeria Oluremi Hamid and 2019 fellow of Morocco Lamia Fikrat were accepted to the annual Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Growth Fellowship, traveling to London last month for training, networking and learning. 10,000 Women has a mission to close the gender gap by investing in women’s education. Their three-month online course, free for women around the world, provides access to training in business, leadership, sales and more. Their annual Fellowship selects a small cohort of course graduates, providing six months of mentorship, training events and networking opportunities. This year, the Fellowship’s culminating event was held in four locations: London, New York, India and China; Lamia and Oluremi were two of four women selected for the London event. Lamia is a strategy and business development consultant as well as a coach for entrepreneurs. Oluremi is the CEO of Hydren Energy, a company that provides solar solutions to small businesses and homes. During the Fellowship, Oluremi learned about the innovation process, expanded her knowledge of successful problem solving and gained valuable lessons in entrepreneurship. “Being vulnerable is a superpower,” she said. “Never be afraid to collaborate with others as it makes you more resilient. Don’t stifle your team of innovation and ideas — allow exchange of ideas.” Read More »
Report Date...: 4/4/2022
Mentor(s): Jill Finlayson
TechWomen mentor Jill Finlayson facilitated the creation of a database that highlights over 450 notable women throughout the history of the UC system. Jill is the director of Expanding Diversity and Gender Equity in Tech (EDGE in Tech) Initiative at UC, leading their efforts to advocate for women in tech, facilitate mentorship and increase the visibility of women role models. The gallery was created in partnership with Berkeley Computing, Data Science, and Society and Berkeley’s Molecular and Cell Biology Department, and is a part of the 150W Campaign celebrating the 150th anniversary of admitting women to the University of California. In addition to helping create the gallery, Jill was on the committee that planned the 150W celebration. “The celebration was in 2020, but I had students improve the crowdsourced database,” Jill said. “The goal was to capture and highlight the contributions of women faculty, staff, students and alumni across the years. It was also to raise the profiles of often overlooked contributors.”Read More »
Report Date...: 4/4/2022
Fellow speaks to club about her petroleum industry career
Fellow(s): Amina Salesse
2020-2021 fellow Amina Salesse was a featured speaker at the University of Boumerdès in celebration of International Women’s Day, addressing students from the University’s Petroleum Club. Amina is a petroleum engineer as well as an operation support engineer for SPA Smartest Algeria. Amina, who attended the university for both her undergraduate and master’s degrees, spoke about her journey in the oil in gas industry and shared her experience as a woman in a male-dominated field. Amina outlined the diverse skills required for her industry, ranging from engineering to HR experience. “There is no specific career path for a newly graduated engineer,” Amina said. “It depends on each person’s ambition, interest, skills, personality and perspective.” Amina also spoke about her TechWomen experience, encouraging the students to connect with the U.S. Embassy Algiers to learn about exchange programs that can facilitate their professional development and connect them to mentors. “I also shared about the stereotypes that stop women from being part of this industry, that we do have brave women who have chosen to make a career in the oil and gas industry and that they are doing incredibly well,” she said.
Report Date...: 4/4/2022
TechWomen 2022 came to a close this week at the Farewell Lunch, where 109 women leaders became fellows. Angela Woods and Chris Miner of the U.S. Department of State joined the event, officially welcoming the new fellows as exchange program alumni. The week leading up to the Farewell Lunch included Pitch Day, an #IamRemarkable workshop and a Capstone event. At the final event, the Community Celebration, fellows and mentors came together to celebrate the hard work, impact and connections made over five weeks. There, TechWomen director Katie Zee announced this year’s five seed grant winning teams that will receive a small grant to implement their country team’s action plan project. This year’s winning teams are:
➢ Team Kyrgyzstan and their platform Kamkor, a portal that seeks to support working moms by connecting them to childcare.
➢ Team Lebanon and their initiative, Taqa, a project that provides businesses access to long-term renewable energy solutions amidst the economic crisis exacerbated by the Beirut Blast.
➢ Team Nigeria and their project, The Walk To Water, an impact initiative offering solar-powered water systems to create access to safe water in the Niger Delta.
➢ Team Sierra Leone who will tackle the country’s waste management crisis by connecting plastic waste collectors and waste recycling companies.
➢ Team Zimbabwe and FOCUS (Feed Our Children Using STEM), an initiative that will enable children in orphanages to grow nutritious food using aquaponics.
Report Date...: 3/28/22