Impact Stories from Education Diplomacy/Mentoring Policy Area
Fellows travel to South Africa as Obama Foundation leaders
Fellow(s): Mpara Faith, Grace Pirisai
Country: Cameroon, Zimbabwe
This week, two TechWomen fellows traveled to Johannesburg as 2019 Obama Foundation Leaders to represent their countries and brainstorm innovative solutions to socioeconomic issues. Mpara Faith, 2017 fellow of Cameroon and Grace Pisirai, 2017 fellow of Zimbabwe, were chosen as emerging leaders for Leaders: Africa, a program of the Obama Foundation that supports changemakers from the African continent through a one-year leadership development and civic engagement program.
Joining 200 fellow impact leaders from 45 countries, Mpara and Grace participated in skill-building workshops, leadership development training and service projects. Throughout the week, participants were challenged with finding creative approaches to problem-solving and establishing individual action plans that address leading issues in their communities.
Mpara is the founder of ICT4KIDS, a training program that educates and empowers children in Cameroon through hands-on STEM activities. Grace is co-founder of Purple Future Trust, a startup founded to educate underserved women and girls in science, engineering and mathematics through interactive technology. During the program year, Mpara and Grace will engage in online programming activities, including interactive webinars, discussions on ethical leadership and peer reviews for their action plans.
Report Date...: 7/15/19
TechWomen travel with TechGirls to the United States
Fellow(s): Keremet Djoldoshbekova, Mutriba Akhmedova, Sevara Siradjeva, Salma Bekkouche, Reem El-Mograby, Dhelal Shorman, Maya Itani, Safaa Boubia and Faten Hammouda
Country: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uzbekistan
Cohort: 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
TechWomen fellows from Central Asia and the MENA region accompanied TechGirls participants on their journey to the U.S. this week, officially kicking off TechGirls 2019. Fellows of Central Asia Dina Shaikhislam (Kazakhstan, 2017), Keremet Djoldoshbekova (Kyrgyzstan, 2015), Mutriba Akhmedova (Tajikistan, 2015) and Sevara Siradjeva (Uzbekistan, 2016) chaperoned the TechGirls from their respective countries, ensuring they arrived in Washington D.C. safely and ready for the exciting program ahead. The next day, MENA fellows Salma Bekkouche (Algeria, 2018), Reem El-Mograby (Egypt, 2011), Dhelal Shorman (Jordan, 2017), Maya Itani (Lebanon, 2017), Safaa Boubia (Morocco, 2018) and Faten Hammouda (Tunisia, 2015) arrived with TechGirls from MENA, joining the other alumnae and TechGirls participants in D.C.
During the week, TechWomen fellows participated in a panel at Trinity Washington University, sharing their experiences and inspiring the TechGirls to pursue STEM fields. “I told them that when I was a software engineering major, there were seven girls and 32 boys in the group,” said Mutriba. “All seven girls graduated, but there were just seven boys left from the 32! Girls are strong by nature. They can do everything they want.” Dhelal spoke about her career transition from biomedical engineering to working at a business incubator with women founders. “I told the girls to never be afraid of change – it’s the only constant in life,” she said.
This year, TechGirls expanded to Central Asia, inviting girls from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the program. Over the coming weeks, the TechGirls cohort will gain exposure to programming, mobile application development and hands-on instruction that aims to empower and inspire them to pursue STEM fields. At the end of this month, seven additional TechWomen fellows from throughout Central Asia and MENA will travel to D.C. to return home with the TechGirls cohort. Before their departure from the U.S., the fellows will have the opportunity to hear the TechGirls’ project plans and attend a concluding capstone event.
Report Date...: 7/8/19
TechWomen and TechGirls create paths to future partnership
Fellow(s): Hania Gati, Ouafa Benterki, Djamila Douache, Nassima Berrayah, Imene Rahal, Ameni Channoufi, Fatima Zohra Benhamida and Salma Bekkouche
Cohort: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018
Last month, TechWomen and TechGirls came together for the Algeria Alumni Summit, the first event from the Algeria TechWomen-TechGirls Club. Launched in 2018 in seven program countries of MENA, TechWomen-TechGirls Clubs provide a space for career counseling, mentoring, leadership development and more.
The summit’s mission was to strengthen the TechWomen and TechGirls community and facilitate opportunities for future collaboration and mentorship. 2011 fellow Hania Gati, 2012 fellow Ouafa Benterki, 2013 fellows Djamila Douache, Nassima Berrayah and Imene Rahal, 2014 fellow Ameni Channoufi, 2017 fellow Fatima Zohra Benhamida and 2018 fellow Salma Bekkouche were in attendance, leading roundtables on mentorship, entrepreneurship and Algeria’s tech landscape. The fellows also joined a TechWomen-TechGirls panel, sharing their exchange program experiences and exploring ways alumnae can support one another. At the end of the summit, the group set goals for future collaboration, creating roadmaps for future projects, grant proposals and STEM activities.
Report Date...: 7/8/19
Fellow collaborates with mentor to host inaugural tech summit
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa, United States
Last week, 2017 fellow Lindiwe Matlali organized the first-ever Girl Geek Summit in Centurion, South Africa. The two-day event was designed to motivate girls to pursue careers in STEM by exposing them to inspirational role models, exciting sessions and opportunities to build their confidence. Lindiwe, founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks, a computer science academy dedicated to teaching underserved communities within South Africa, envisioned the summit to address the STEM education gap; according to her, only five percent of South African schools teach computer science. “With more widespread, equal access to computer science, female mentors and role models in STEM, we believe we can drastically change these numbers,” she said.
Tapping into the expertise of local and international women leaders, the summit’s sessions supported 100 girls to explore STEM subjects through various keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and one-to-one career coaching. TechWomen Professional Mentor Eileen Brewer, who traveled to South Africa for the event, presented a workshop on tech entrepreneurship, emphasizing why the world needs more girls in STEM.
Following the success of the inaugural conference, Lindiwe is planning for the 2020 Girls Geek Summit and plans to triple the number of attendees to 300.
Report Date...: 7/1/2019
Fellows reflect on starting local Technovation chapter
Fellow(s): Elena Selezneva, Ozoda Ismailova and Saida Yusupova
In a documentary-style video, 2016 fellows Elena Selezneva, Ozoda Ismailova and Saida Yusupova share how their TechWomen experience inspired them to establish the first Technovation chapter in Uzbekistan. In the video, the fellows discuss their vision to bring home the positive benefits of mentorship, which they saw firsthand through TechWomen.
Using the Technovation Challenge model, which supports teams of girls build mobile apps to solve issues in their community, they aim to address root causes of gender inequality, illiteracy and lack of access to technology. Since its launch, hundreds of girls throughout Uzbekistan have participated in the program. In 2018, six Uzbek teams reached the semifinals, joining 1,500 teams from 115 countries; one Uzbek team made it to the world finals and pitched their app to experts in Silicon Valley.
The video also features other leaders in Tashkent, including Public Affairs Officer John Brown of the U.S. Embassy, which supports the fellows’ efforts to expand Technovation activities across the country. The fellows were also selected as a 2018 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) winner.
Report Date...: 7/1/19
Fellows and Emerging Leaders join forces to inspire girls
Fellow(s): Michelle Sesay, Fatmata Kamara Valentina Thompson, Magdalene Peters, Kumba Musa, Bernadette Kargbo, Sebay Momoh, Lyat Mason and Nyanje-Marie Jabati
Country: Sierra Leone
Cohort: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019
This week, TechWomen fellows and incoming Emerging Leaders came together to inspire young girls to pursue engineering. 2013 fellow Michelle Sesay, 2014 fellows Fatmata Kamara and Valentina Thompson, 2015 fellows Magdalene Peters and Kumba Musa and 2018 fellows Bernadette Kargbo and Sebay Momoh participated in a sponsored walk for Sierra Leone Women Engineers. There, they were joined by two 2019 Emerging Leaders, Lyat Mason and Nyanje-Marie Jabati, for a day of programming with middle school and high school girls.
Sierra Leone Women Engineers was established by the country’s Institution of Engineers to increase the pipeline of women engineers in the country and encourage its members to collaborate. The event was attended primarily by girls from Saturday Club, a group that the fellows established to assist young girls with their school work and inspire them to pursue STEM fields. At Saturday Club, the fellows invite women engineers to speak about their work and often organize field trips and site visits to see it firsthand. “Most often, we’re the only women in the room or on site,” said Sebay. “This needs to change! We continue to raise awareness about the benefits of STEM and encourage our girls to take up the challenge.”
Report Date...: 6/24/19
Fellow holds STEM competition for local secondary schools
Fellow(s): Chioma Ezedi
Last week, 2016 fellow Chioma Ezedi organized and hosted innov8 STEM Competition, a STEM-based event for secondary school students in Bauchi State. Chioma, a software developer, is also a co-founder of STEMTeers alongside 2015 TechWomen fellow Mercy Sosanya. With a mission to inspire innovation and technological advancement in children, STEMTeers brings engaging STEM education to youth through hands-on programming and activities.
The competition, supported in part by U.S Embassy Abuja, was themed on finding innovative solutions to waste and recycling challenges in the students’ communities. Throughout the day, more than 60 students representing 13 schools presented their ideas to a panel of judges, which included 2014 fellow Tarimin Kewa. In order to compete, students and schools were required to have at least half of their team be comprised of female students.
The winning group was an all-girl team from Al-iman Secondary School who addressed the lack of recycling and sustainable solutions in Bauchi State. Their project recycled water, turning it into cleaner water to use for domestic chores. “They were prepared with facts and statistics, even when the judges asked tough questions,” said Chioma.
Report Date...: 6/17/19
Fellow shares journey to entrepreneurship
Fellow(s): Sabine El Kahi
This week, 2014 fellow Sabine El Kahi was featured in the “Women on Top” series for Berytech, an initiative that provides support to innovative and passionate entrepreneurs in Lebanon. In her interview, Sabine outlined her business and career strategies, sharing what drives her as an entrepreneur.
Sabine is the founder of Kids Genius, a STEM-based initiative that spreads maker culture to young students through hands-on activities and courses in their maker hubs. In her interview, she spoke about Kids Genius’s four makerspaces, three of which collaborate with local foundations and NGOs to serve underprivileged communities. “The main drive was my passion to have a meaningful and purposeful life,” she said. “I love and enjoy seeing the excitement on young people’s faces while working at The Makers Hub… Their eyes glow when they see the connection between what they study and how things are built and produced.”
Report Date...: 6/17/19
Fellows host mentorship event for students in Karakol
Fellow(s): Nazira Sheraly, Aiturgan Zulpukarova, Elena Chigibaeva, Gulzire Minbaeva
Cohort: 2016, 2017, 2018
Last week, 2016 fellow Nazira Sheraly, 2017 fellow Aiturgan Zulpukarova and 2018 fellows Elena Chigibaeva and Gulzire Minbaeva organized an event that brought together students for a day of inspiration and learning. The meetup, held at the American Corner Karakol, was the first event hosted by Techaim, a mentorship program recently launched by Nazira and the fellows. Through Techaim, the fellows aspire to support women in STEM fields, particularly those outside of the capital city, to grow and develop. With support from program volunteers, the fellows coordinated the event, engaged partners and presented on their own work and initiatives.
Eighty high school and university students attended the day’s programming, which featured keynotes and presentations from local women in tech. Elena, a CEO and independent consultant, presented on her career trajectory and expanded on Techaim’s mission to educate and mentor students interested in tech. Aiturgan spoke to the students about Kuragami, her company that works with local artisans to make sustainable and ethically sourced products. “Participants loved it, and the students were inspired by our supportive community of women in tech,” said Nazira. Techaim hosted its second meetup on June 15 in Osh and has plans to continue scaling.
Report Date...: 6/10/19
Fellows featured as leading innovators in tech
Fellow(s): Sondos Samara, Afnan Ali
Cohort: 2011, 2018
2018 fellow Sondos Samara and 2011 fellow Afnan Ali were recently recognized as innovators in Jordan by Global Innovation Path, an initiative that educates, advises and amplifies leaders in emerging countries.
With a mission to raise awareness about diverse innovators piloting new technologies, Global Innovation Path selects leaders in the fields of tech, health and evolving education. Sondos is the founder of SanadyMe, an interactive online platform where medical patients can share their experiences, find support and learn about research and the latest medical technologies in a safe environment. In her video feature, Sondos explained the mission of SanadyMe, highlighting their goal of creating a database for medical providers and pharmaceutical companies that can improve drug development and better address patient needs in the MENA region.
Afnan is the founder of Eureka Tech Academy, a program that specializes in educating children on engineering, invention and transforming ideas into products and services. In her feature, she spoke about founding and scaling her initiative, stressing the importance of educating the next generation: “If we want to make a revolution in technology, we should start by educating kids,” she said.
Report Date...: 5/27/19