Impact Stories from Education Diplomacy/Mentoring Policy Area
Fellows and mentors collaborate for TIKE webinar
Fellow(s): Imene Henni Mansour, Celia Ouabas, Katy Dickinson (mentor) and Jessica Dickinson Goodman (mentor)
Country: Algeria, United States
During TechWomen 2019, team Algeria created TIKE (Teacher’s Initiative for Kids Education), their action plan that addressed the country’s high student dropout rate through supporting educators and students. TIKE did not win a seed grant, but fellows Imene Henni Mansour and Celia Ouabas were undeterred, continuing to develop the project with support from their Impact Coach Katy Dickinson. TIKE launched in 2020, hosting workshops for schoolteachers themed on supporting Algeria’s students.
TIKE has continued its work in 2021, holding events for parents that explore ways to support children. Their latest webinar, “Academic success from the parent and child perspectives,” invited Katy and her daughter, TechWomen Impact Coach Jessica Dickinson Goodman, to share their perspectives on success and how parents can support their children in academics and beyond. During the talk, Katy explained that parents must actively work to not impose their own fears on their children’s potential, instead instilling in them a sense of ability and independence. Jessica agreed, saying “Academic success, namable achievements and titles are useful only in places where they can help you reach your goals. They don’t have intrinsic value to me — they have utilitarian value.” Imene and Celia will continue to host conversations that help Algerian parents, students and teachers: “We very much hope that the whole interview will help our audience of parents and teachers be more understanding towards children, and give the right support they need to help leverage their potential in the best environment possible,” they said.
Report Date...: 3/29/21
Mentor(s): Cecile Thirion
Company: Thirion Advisors
Mentor Type: Impact, Professional
In a recent blog post from Qwasar Silicon Valley, a platform that provides training for 21st century skills, mentor Cecile Thirion was interviewed about her passion for mentorship and commitment to community-building. Cecile is the founder and principal of Thirion Advisors and an advisor at Qwasar.
In the interview, Cecile spoke about serving as a TechWomen mentor since 2012 and the lessons mentorship has taught her along the way: “By giving back, I have learned so much. I’ve kept gaining knowledge and growing my skills not only by learning from these talented entrepreneurs but also from the mentor community. Mentoring led me to uncharted territories and opportunities I wouldn’t have thought possible,” she said. Cecile also spoke about joining Qwasar because of their commitment to creating social impact, and how she hopes to continue the mentorship model as an advisor. “Giving back through mentoring has become second nature,” she said.
Report Date...: 3/29/21
Fellow shares entrepreneurial journey in State Department talk
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa
This week, 2017 fellow of Lindiwe Matlali was interviewed by Molly Kress of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, speaking about her work, her TechWomen experience and her advice for entrepreneurs. The Instagram Live conversation was part of ECA’s Inside Exchanges – Women’s History Month series that features exchange alumna who are making a global impact.
Lindiwe is the founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks, Africa’s largest computer science academy dedicated to teaching underserved communities within South Africa and beyond. During South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown, Lindiwe and her team launched STEM Lockdown Digital School, hiring 150 teachers to work on the free virtual learning program that ultimately reached over 500,000 children. Africa Teen Geeks is currently planning its expansion to Argentina as well as developing their partnership with South Africa’s Department of Basic Education that will implement ATG’s curriculum in schools: “Every child irrespective of their background will be able to access the curriculum,” she said.
Lindiwe also spoke about her TechWomen experience and how she used her mentorship experience to network, facilitate future projects and expand her impact. “I believe in having strong relationships with other women, especially those that have paved the way,” Lindiwe said. She concluded by sharing a Zulu saying: “You can only get directions from those who have already walked the path.”
Report Date...: 3/22/21
World Bank features fellow’s impact in Central Asia
Fellow(s): Saida Yusopova
2016 fellow Saida Yusopova was recently featured by The World Bank in Europe and Central Asia in a video spotlight that highlighted her work bringing tech training and workshops to over 5,000 girls in Uzbekistan.
Saida is the co-founder and CEO of Green Business Innovation as well as a regional ambassador for Technovation. Alongside 2016 fellows Elena Selezneva and Ozoda Ismailova, Saida established Technovation’s first chapter in Uzbekistan, supporting teams of girls in building mobile apps that solve real-world issues in their communities. Since Technovation launched in Uzbekistan, over 5,000 girls have coded 250 mobile apps that bring innovative solutions to their communities. “Some people believe that the IT profession isn’t suitable for women,” said Saida. Through Technovation, Saida is challenging that stereotype, creating a pipeline for more girls to study IT and enter the tech sector. “We can confidently say that the challenge has a significant impact on the lives of our participants,” she said.
Report Date...: 3/22/21
Fellow featured in global forum on women in leadership
Fellow(s): Reema Diab
2019 fellow Reema Diab presented on her initiative that empowers women and girls with IT skills at this week’s Global Viewpoints Forum hosted by Legacy International. The event also featured TechGirls alumna Lara Kasbari of the Palestinian Territories.
Reema is the founder of Galaxy Organization, an IT non-profit that hosts programs for youth and women in artificial intelligence, coding and more. In her presentation, Reema outlined the unemployment challenges women face in Jordan, explaining that women only account for 12% of the Jordanian workforce. Through its programs, Galaxy has a mission to train women and youth with IT skills that will help them find jobs and opportunities: “All the women and youth are empowered to create a better life using their skills in technology,” said Reema. Galaxy has trained over 2,200 girls through its cybersecurity program, and 550 women have participated in its online business program. The organization has recently expanded its reach to women and youth in Egypt, Dubai and the Philippines.
Report Date...: 3/22/21
Fellow’s non-profit opens a STEM space for girls
Fellow(s): Janet Leparteleg and Chepkemoi Magdaline
Cohort: 2017, 2019
Butterfly Techies, the non-profit founded by 2017 fellow Janet Leparteleg, has opened its first STEM space for students in Samburu County, Kenya. Janet created Butterfly Techies in 2016 with a mission to expose high school girls from arid and semi-arid counties to STEM careers and empower them with digital literacy skills. In addition to founding the non-profit, Janet is an assistant ICT officer at ICT authority as well as a 2019 Chevening Scholar.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Janet’s outreach to schools in rural Kenya came to a halt. “Schools in Kenya had been closed for nine months, and once they resumed, there were very strict measures for school visits,” she said. “That affected our programs, and we felt the need to open up a community space to increase our scope from students to entire communities.” Butterfly Techies has already purchased computers and supplies for their pilot program, which will bring in 12 students for classes on digital literacy. The first cohort begins in two weeks, and Janet is already speaking to partners – many of whom are TechWomen fellows – who will create programs that train students in IT, 21st century skills, leadership and more. This month, Butterfly Techies also partnered with North-Rift Women in STEM, the AEIF-winning initiative co-led by 2019 fellow Chepkemoi Magdaline, to run a STEM training bootcamp for 90 women and girls in Samburu County.
Report Date...: 3/15/21
Fellow speaks about her STEM career in podcast
Fellow(s): Fatima Zohra Benhamida
This week, 2017 fellow Fatima Zohra Benhamida was a featured guest on the Gusra Podcast, a podcast that invites thought-leaders in the MENA region to speak about their experiences, careers and passions. Fatima is an assistant professor at the National School of Computer Science in Algiers, as well as a TechWomen/TechGirls Club board member, Technovation judge and Microsoft Humans of IT community ambassador.
“I was invited to be the voice for girls and women, and speak about my experiences as a woman in STEM,” said Fatima. During the interview, she spoke about being raised in an underserved region in Algeria and the obstacles she overcame to both study and teach at top universities. She shared her experiences about being the only woman engineer on a male-dominated team, as well as her advice for women who are balancing work and family. Fatima also reflected on her TechWomen experience and how her time in Silicon Valley changed her mindset and renewed her passion for encouraging women and girls to be successful STEM.
Report Date...: 3/15/21
With award funds fellow plans to build STEM center for kids
Fellow(s): Rita Clemence Mutabazi
Last month, 2013 fellow Rita Clemence Mutabazi was named a winner of the Women in Science Award for her commitment to advancing science in Rwanda. Rita is the principal of IPRC Tumba, a polytechnic school specializing in IT, electronics, communication technology and green tech. Rita serves as the only woman principal among the greater consortium of polytechnic schools in Kigali.
The event was held on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and organized by The National Council for Science and Technology in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Rwanda Association for Women in Science and Engineering, and Next Einstein Forum. Rita was honored alongside four other women, and was given the Science Leadership Award in recognition of her dedication to promoting science among women and girls in Rwanda. Rita will use her award funds to help create a STEM makerspace at her former primary school, and has recruited the help of TechWomen fellows. Noella Nibakuze (2018), Zani Gichuki (2019) and Shakira Nyiratuza (2019), all of whom work at MASS Design Group, will lend their skills to help design a space that will have an electronics corner, biology corner and other STEM tools to inspire students. “This journey won’t be possible without TechWomen alumnae and all the girls who aspire to be engineers, scientists and technologists that have fueled my passion to do more,” said Rita.
Report Date...: 3/8/21
TechWomen/TechGirls Clubs host first cross-regional summit
Fellow(s): TechWomen/TechGirls Clubs
This week, the TechWomen/TechGirls Clubs from the CSA and MENA regions convened for their first-ever Cross-Regional Summit, gathering online to network, share updates and support one another’s activities and initiatives. TechWomen/TechGirls Clubs provide a space for career counseling, mentoring, leadership development and more. Launched in 2018, the cross-program clubs expanded from seven program countries in MENA to include four countries in CSA.
Callie Ward, ECA’s youth programs branch chief, opened the day, speaking about the importance of engaging and empowering girls to create change in their communities. “You are moving forward, you are leading…I applaud all of your efforts. I want to thank you for everything I know you’ll do moving forward,” she said. 2013 TechWomen fellow of Lebanon Nisreen Deeb also delivered a keynote, emphasizing that, through communities like TechWomen/TechGirls, women and girls can foster innovation, entrepreneurship and community impact. “Keep supporting each other, keep empowering each other — because we need each other,” she said.
In breakout rooms themed on IT, tech business, engineering, and medical/ed/tech policy, TechWomen and TechGirls alumnae had an opportunity to talk about their work, share how they were celebrating International Women’s Day and give career support and advice.
Report Date...: 3/1/21
Mentor(s): Sreeja Nair (mentor)
Mentor Type: Professional
TechWomen mentor Sreeja Nair was invited this month to serve as a Hult Prize OnCampus virtual judge at the Heritage Institute of Technology in Kolkata, India. The Hult Prize is a startup accelerator that empowers social entrepreneurs at colleges and universities to solve the world’s most pressing issues; the final winning student team wins one million dollars in seed capital.
Joined by entrepreneurs across India, Sreeja judged 22 teams competing for the regional rounds. The student teams pitched solutions to this year’s theme of Food for Good, presenting their agricultural mobile apps, initiatives that introduce ethnic foods to a wider audience and more. “It was awe-inspiring to see the entrepreneurial spirit and passion that each of the teams brought to the table,” said Sreeja. “It was also heartening to see a lot of young women on the teams actively leading, pitching ,and answering questions confidently.” Since the event, many of the teams who were not sent to the final round have reached out to Sreeja to request mentorship and guidance. “This ethos of striving to bring change makes me believe that our future is really bright,” she said.
Report Date...: 2/22/21