Impact Stories from Education Diplomacy/Mentoring Policy Area
Four TechWomen alumnae projects win AEIF grant
Fellow(s): Dalia Shurrab, Yamama Shaka’a, Ruba Awayes, Christelle Tayou, Gisele Beatrice Sonfack
Country: Cameroon, Palestinian Territories
Cohort: 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019
Recently, it was announced that four TechWomen alumnae initiatives were named winners of the 2020 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund. The 2020 theme of “Women, Peace, and Security” received over 300 submissions; 80 teams of exchange alumni from 67 countries were awarded funding for their community-based projects.
Through Mompreneur, 2019 fellow Dalia Shurrab will help support 60 mothers from the Gaza Strip and 30 from the West Bank to start their own online businesses. With specialized training in design and marketing, the program will empower women to monetize their skills in wood carving, embroidery, cooking and more. The project including Palestinian Territories alumnae Yamama Shaka’a (2016) and Ruba Awayes (2017), VTech Road, was recently adapted to a virtual setting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The comprehensive online learning platform will offer courses and educational materials that support women’s political, economic and civic participation. 2014 fellow of Cameroon Christelle Tayou and her team created Protecting Internally Displaced Women from Abusive Arrests to address the needs of displaced and vulnerable women, many who lack proper documentation, through legal support and health assistance. They will also train women and girls in the monitoring and reporting of human rights violations. With Combatting Sexual Violence Against Female Students and Female Teachers in Secondary Schools in the Littoral Region of Cameroon, 2016 fellow Gisele Beatrice Sonfack will address Gender-Based Violence, targeting eight schools and working with students to raise awareness and create meaningful community impact.
Report Date...: 1/4/21
Fellow leads mentorship initiative for indigenous women
Fellow(s): Noella Nibakuze
2019 fellow Noella Nibakuze has completed leading a two-month project that mentored 10 young Rwandan women artists in sustainable architecture. Noella is a design associate at MASS Design Group, a U.S.-based architecture firm that leads purpose-driven projects, focuses on using sustainable materials and promotes local economies.
MASS recently partnered with the Soul of Nations Foundation, an organization that uplifts indigenous people through their programming centered on art, research and scholarship. The project also included the U.S. Embassy Rwanda, as well as the Institute of National Museums. Noella was appointed by MASS to lead the effort, titled “Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project,” helping mentor the 10 Rwandan women artists through job shadowing, workshops and more. The completion of the project was celebrated at a virtual event, where U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda Peter Vrooman thanked Noella for her mentorship.
Report Date...: 1/4/21
TechWomen/TechGirls Clubs host regional summits
Fellow(s): TechWomen/TechGirls Clubs
Country: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uzbekistan
This month, TechWomen/TechGirls Clubs held their biannual regional summits for the CSA and MENA regions, convening alumnae from both programs to share club updates, network and reignite club involvement for the coming year. 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 now include four countries in CSA.
After IIE and Legacy International shared program updates, summit participants were encouraged to provide updates about their club and activities, sharing about their progress despite a challenging year. Although the COVID-19 pandemic halted or delayed many outreach activities, workshops and initiatives, the clubs continue to organize, plan and provide mentorship opportunities to the TechGirls participants. In breakout rooms, club teams came together to discuss leadership structure, share what practices have created successful events and decide how the club will move forward in the coming year. After returning to the main room, teams shared out the highlights of their breakout room discussions. In a closing activity, TechWomen and TechGirls alumnae were prompted to type into the chat box what inspires them the most as a member of the TechGirls and TechWomen community. “We are so inspired by each of your efforts and work despite the challenging year,” said the TechGirls team.
Fellow’s organization featured by CNN Africa
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa
2017 fellow Lindiwe Matlali and her organization, Africa Teen Geeks, were featured in a video profile by CNN Africa this month for their work spreading STEM education to students throughout Africa.
In the face of increasing high school dropout rates and a deficit of STEM skills within South Africa, Africa Teen Geeks, the largest computer science NGO in Africa, recently partnered with South Africa’s Department of Basic Education to introduce coding and robotics into classrooms. So far, they have translated the curriculum in the 11 official languages of South Africa. “This means that when our kids start school at six years old and can’t speak English yet, they will learn coding in their mother tongue,” said Lindiwe. Africa Teen Geeks has also partnered with UNICEF to scale their impact in developing countries.
“A girl can do whatever she wants,” said one of Africa Teen Geek’s young students featured in the profile. “If I can get to where I want to be, then I can encourage a lot of girls and make them see that they have potential.”
Report Date...: 12/28/20
Fellow mentors teams for UNDP hackathon against violence
Fellow(s): Natalya Tyudina
2018 fellow Natalya Tyudina served as a mentor for this week’s #NoViolence hackathon in Tajikistan, guiding six teams through developing innovative solutions that support the country’s most vulnerable groups. The two-day hackathon was hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Tajikistan in partnership with Ilmkhon Skills Accelerator, and aimed to empower young people throughout Tajikistan to address domestic violence as well as discrimination against women with HIV/AIDS.
The hackathon’s 10 teams were led by six mentors who were experts in public health, tech, human rights and more. During her sessions, Natalya, a cloud technology developer for Ericsson, worked alongside her six teams to develop a prototype that supported vulnerable women. “I was asking them, ‘What is your project about? How do you plan to implement it? What is your six-month plan?’” said Natalya. “I wanted to navigate them by asking a lot of questions and helping them improve their solution.” At the conclusion of the event, her teams created a safe app for women that calls the police and shows the nearest women’s shelters, a chatbot that answers questions and provides information the laws surrounding domestic violence and an app that tracks HIV test results and provides HIV-related health information. Her teams won first and third place, receiving a cash prize to support implementation of their project. “Everyone should feel supported and safe, no matter of social status, gender or health conditions,” said Natalya.
Report Date...: 12/14/20
Fellow wins UNCTAD Women in Business Award
Fellow(s): Afnan Ali
2011 fellow Afnan Ali was named the winner of the 7th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Empretec Women in Business Awards, recognized for her leadership and commitment to educating Jordan’s youth. Afnan is the founder of Eureka Tech Academy, a STEM education company that creates comprehensive programming and workshops for children in engineering, technology and innovation. Through its programs, Eureka offers children ages six to 16 training in robotics, pneumatics, renewable energy, mobile apps, entrepreneurship and more.
Afnan was one of ten finalists for the award, which is issued every two years for women who have participated in the UNCTAD Empretec program. “I started with a dream to help children become inventors because that’s what I wanted to be when I was a child,” said Afnan. “Having an unshakable belief of the ‘why’ behind this project is a must.” As the Women in Business Award winner, Afnan was awarded a fellowship for the Executive Education Program at IMD Business School in Switzerland.
Report Date...: 12/14/20
Fellows and mentor speak at UN event on education
Fellow(s): Janet Fofang, Reema Diab, and Eileen Brewer (mentor)
Country: Cameroon, Jordan, United States
Cohort: 2013, 2019
2013 fellow of Cameroon Janet Fofang, 2019 fellow of Jordan Reema Diab and mentor Eileen Brewer were featured speakers at this week’s Education for Justice Global Dialogue Series, a four-day event that fostered discussions on education for the rule of law, the UN SDGs and how the international education community can respond to the growing challenges in education. The series, “Reimagining education for a more just world: Inspire, change, together,” was held by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Janet is an electrical engineering educator and advocate for girls in STEM, and Reema is the founder of Galaxy Organization, an IT non-profit that hosts programs for youth and women in artificial intelligence, coding and more. Their panel, moderated by global coordinators from the UNODC Education for Justice (E4J) initiative, featured leaders in education who shared how innovative educational tools and technologies can foster global citizenship education and improve learning outcomes.
Eileen was a featured panelist on a discussion about how youth-driven technology and entrepreneurship can accelerate progress of the SDGs. Eileen is currently the director Takween Accelerator, the first startup accelerator in Iraq.
Report Date...: 12/7/20
Fellows serve as judges for Hult Prize finals
Fellow(s): Asna Javed and Ayesha Mumtaz Khan
This week, 2019 fellows Asna Javed and Ayesha Mumtaz Khan served as judges for the Hult Prize final event at Lahore Garrison University in Lahore, Pakistan. With programs in six continents, the Hult Prize is a startup accelerator that empowers social entrepreneurs at colleges and universities to solve the world’s most pressing issues. Each year the Hult Prize awards the final winning student team with one million dollars in seed capital.
Ayesha also served as a mentor at the semi-final round of the competition. For this week’s final regional round, Asna and Ayesha, alongside another female judge, heard five student teams present their ideas on this year’s theme, Food for Good. The pitches included solutions that address food waste, recycling, empowering local vendors and more. “I focused on wow factor, sustainability and diversity of teams,” says Asna. “The TechWomen program taught me how to think logically and critically. My learning helped me a lot in yesterday’s judging.”
Report Date...: 12/7/20
Fellow wins silver at international education awards
Fellow(s): Chao Mbogo
KamiLimu, the mentorship non-profit founded by 2017 fellow Chao Mbogo, was named a Silver Winner for the Nurturing Employability Award at the 2020 Reimagine Education Awards and Conference. Known as the “Oscars for education,” the yearly awards recognize and reward innovative initiatives that enhance student education and employability. This year, over 2,000 people attended the virtual awards ceremony.
KamiLimu is a free eight-month structured mentorship program for computer science college students in Kenya. Now on their fifth cohort, KamiLimu has worked with 170 students from 19 universities and multiple community partners that enhance the students’ learning experience. The program also ensures that each cohort has 50% female students. “My heart is full,” said Chao after the win. “Today goes down in history as one of the most important days in mine and KamiLimu’s life.”
Report Date...: 12/7/20
Fellows and mentors team up for women in tech panel
Fellow(s): Chepkemoi Magdaline, Josephine Ndambuki, Ruth Kaveke, Maya Bisineer (mentor) and Jennifer Martin (mentor)
Country: Kenya, United States
Cohort: 2013, 2017, 2019
2019 fellow of Kenya Chepkemoi Magdaline recently convened a group of TechWomen mentors and fellows for a discussion on the future of work and how women can advance in the tech industry. Chepkemoi, the moderator, was joined by fellows of Kenya Josephine Ndambuki (2013) and Ruth Kaveke (2017) as well as mentors Maya Bisineer of GoDaddy and Jennifer Martin of Verizon. The panel was hosted by EldoHub, Chepkemoi’s Ed-Tech platform, and the Countrywide Innovations Hub as part of Lake Basin Innovation and Investment Week, an annual gathering for innovators and entrepreneurs in Kenya.
During their group discussion, the mentors and fellows discussed the global gender gap in technology as well as the challenges they’ve faced as women in their industries. “Every time I meet women from across the world, we have such unique stories,” said Maya. “What brings us together is a fascination for technology and the perseverance to keep going and find people who are going through something similar.” The mentors and fellows also discussed how they often had no blueprint in their career journeys, and were instead tasked with paving the way themselves. Josephine, who manages economic development and partnerships for Konza Technolopolis as well as Ruth, the founder and executive director of Pwani Teknowgalz, spoke about their TechWomen experience and how their mentors played prominent role in shaping their careers and supporting them in scaling their businesses. At the conclusion of the event, Ruth gave advice to the young women watching: “Reach out, ask for help and find the right people that will always support you,” she said.
Report Date...: 11/30/20