Impact Stories from Empowering Women and Girls Policy Area
Fellows collaborate with UNDP to advocate for STEM education
Fellow(s): Gulzire Minbaeva, Madina Samakbaeva
Cohort: 2018, 2020-2021
This week, Gulzire Minbaeva (2018) and Madina Samakbaeva (2020-2021) collaborated with the United Nations Development Programme of the Kyrgyz Republic to host a Q&A session about the importance of STEM education. The session was held on the UNDP Instagram page, where Gulzire and Madina interacted with women and youth to answer their questions about the skills STEM develops and the importance of including women and girls in STEM fields.
Gulzire is a teacher, education advocate and the official representative of Khan Academy in Kyrgyzstan. She and her team have translated over 250 Khan Academy video courses to Kyrgyz that are available for free to students throughout Kyrgyzstan. Madina is a quality control chemist and founder of Easysciencekg, a platform that provides easy and accessible chemistry lessons to children and adults.
In their sessions, the fellows spoke about the UNDP’s new STEM4ALL initiative, a program that addresses gender inequity in STEM fields through STEM advocacy, education and policy recommendations. The fellows answered questions about gender discrimination in STEM, emphasizing that STEM education is for all students, regardless of gender. “I told them about all the skills STEM develops, using examples from my own life,” said Madina. “STEM education will develop our students.”
Report Date...: 9/13/21
Fellow featured as STEM role model for girls
Fellow(s): Joy Makumbe
2015 fellow Joy Makumbe was featured in Words That Count, an initiative that
shares stories of successful African women in STEM who serve as role models for
young girls on the continent. Joy, a civil and water engineer and project manager,
spoke about her leadership journey, her passion for engineering and the
importance of women’s leadership in male-dominated industries.
This year, Joy published Tech Girl Diaries, a book that chronicles her personal and
professional journey in STEM. Through a series of essays, Joy shares lessons and
practical advice on how parents, communities and workplaces can support girls and
women on their STEM journeys and work together towards addressing the gender
imbalance in STEM fields. “Working in a male-dominated industry is challenging
because you are always required to prove yourself to be acceptable,” Joy says in
the Words That Count feature. “I love what I do, and I have no apologies for
that…Women are powerful and have what it takes to overcome the many obstacles
they face in a patriarchal society.”
Report Date...: 9/13/21
Blog post highlights fellow’s contribution to STEM education
Fellow(s): Rana El Chemaitelly
2017 fellow Rana El Chemaitelly was spotlighted in a blog post from The Global
Ambassadors Program, a partnership between Vital Voices and Bank of America
that connects emerging women leaders to established women executives. Rana is
a Vital Voices GROW fellow as well as a Global Ambassadors Program mentee.
Rana is the founder of The Little Engineer (TLE), an after-school center and
international program that offers youth ages four and up courses and activities in
electronics, physics, electricity, robotics and more. She also founded The Lifetime
Education Foundation, the non-profit arm of TLE that runs a women in
entrepreneurship program as well as a program bringing their STEM curriculum to
public schools. In the blog post, Rana speaks about TLE’s expansion to over 30
countries, sharing that the program develops customized and culture-specific
curriculum that inspires youth to be creative problem-solvers. During the
pandemic, Rana adapted TLE’s programs to an online format, developing free
programs that allowed youth everywhere to learn about STEM, no matter their circumstances.
Report Date...: 9/13/21
Fellows launch free summer innovation camp for youth
Fellow(s): Nisreen Deeb and Sabine Kai
Cohort: 2013, 2014
Fellows Nisreen Deeb (2013) and Sabine Kai (2014) co-launched Technical Innovation Summer Camp, a program that introduces Lebanese youth to maker culture. The pilot program was led by the Lebanese League of Women in Business (LLWB), the initiative Nisreen manages, and Ali Ghandour Center, in collaboration with The Makers Hub, the makerspace Sabine founded that serves youth ages seven to 18.
Six 16 year-old students from Ali Ghandour Center participated in the free three-week program, learning about design, machinery and tech innovation. They followed a customized curriculum designed by The Makers Hub, using woodworking machines and learning about 2D and 3D design as well as digital fabrication. The students created items using the skills they learned, such as a chess board with chess pieces and a multipurpose desk organizer.
Nisreen and Sabine have previously worked together, collaborating with the U.S. Embassies in Beirut and Algiers to introduce a STEAM film club for exchange alumni and the greater STEAM communities in Lebanon and Algeria. They also collaborated on the LLWB TechWood program, working together to bring woodworking skills to Lebanese and Syrian students. “The collaboration between me and Sabine started since we both met following the TechWomen program, and we have collaborated on many projects,” said Nisreen. “It’s a collaboration that has also turned into a friendship.”
Report Date...: 9/6/21
Fellows work together to inspire youth in Turkmenistan
Fellow(s): Merjen Saparmyradova, Maral Rejepova, Nasiba Charykulyyeva
Cohort: 2019, 2020-2021
This month, 2019 fellow Merjen Saparmyradova participated in the UNFPA Turkmenistan International Youth Day celebration, recruiting fellows Maral Rejepova (2019) and Nasiba Charykulyyeva (2020-2021) to help her educate and motivate young people in Turkmenistan.
The three-day event offered online seminars and training for youth, featuring sessions on emerging technologies, cyber security, women in tech and more. Merjen, who is currently a visiting lecturer at the International University for the Humanities and Development, led the Youth and Girls in Technology session for 150 youth ages 10-24.
Merjen began the session with a presentation on cyber security and the future of technology, and Maral shared about her work with 5G technology and her TechWomen mentorship at Qualcomm. “Speaking about my mentorship caused great admiration, motivated them and gave a clear understanding that they can reach heights if they pursue their goals,” she said. Nasiba concluded with a presentation on nanotechnology and the manufacturing of the third generation of solar cells. Each session was followed by a Q&A where the participants could ask the fellows questions about their fields of expertise. “I saw sparking excitement in the eyes of our youth when they asked us questions,” said Merjen. “We aimed to come together and work with with youth to build a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.”
Report Date...: 8/30/21
Fellows share experiences as women in STEM
Fellow(s): Ghada Amin, Salma Gherraby
Country: Egypt, Morocco
Cohort: 2018, 2019
2018 fellow of Egypt Ghada Amin and 2019 fellow of Morocco Salma Gherraby were featured panelists in a session on women in STEM, speaking about their career trajectories and giving advice for girls interested in pursuing STEM fields. The Facebook Live session was led by 2021 TechGirls participant Nadia Esawy and hosted by Prodigy, a platform that offers training and workshops in technology skills. Ghada and Salma spoke about what inspired them to enter STEM as well as the challenges they’ve faced as women in their fields. They also reflected on their TechWomen journeys, giving advice on the application and offering professional guidance for girls who are new to STEM. Both Ghada and Salma encouraged the girls to follow their curiosity and remain ambitious, despite the challenge of entering male-dominated industries. “I was asked if it is worth it for young girls to pursue careers in STEM and why,” said Salma. “I said, why should we not do it? Why shouldn’t girls follow this path? It’s not about gender — it’s about skills.”Read More »
Report Date...: 8/30/21
Fellow appointed to South African science council
Fellow(s): Dr. Tiisetso Lephoto
Country: South Africa
This week, 2016 fellow Dr. Tiisetso Lephoto was appointed to the South
African Council for Natural Scientific Professions by Dr. Blade Nzimande,
South Africa’s minister of higher education, science and innovation. Tiisetso
is a lecturer of molecular and cell biology at the University of the
Witwatersrand as well as the CEO of Nematech, a biotech company that
supplies farmers with biopesticides and other eco-friendly products to
The council, comprised of science professionals with diverse specialties, has
a mission to promote natural sciences in South Africa as well as set
standards for the education and training of natural scientists in the country.
The council also has a goal of bringing more women into natural sciences.
During her four-year term, Tiisetso hopes to inspire more young people
through science advocacy. “We need many more young people to participate in STEM orientated careers and
innovations in order to solve day to day societal problems and challenges,” she said.
Report Date...: 8/30/21
Two fellows named to a Top 5 Nigerian Women in Tech list
Fellow(s): Carolyn Seaman, Olamide Ayeni
This month, 2017 fellows Carolyn Seaman and Olamide Ayeni-Babajide were named to the Top 5 Nigerian Women in Technology list from WebNation Africa, a media company sharing stories of African business, politics and culture. The list features five women who are creating change and positively impacting communities in Nigeria and beyond.
Carolyn is the founder of Girls Voices, an initiative that trains and empowers adolescent girls in human rights, STEM skills and leadership. Girls Voices has reached over 300,000 girls through their programs, and has collaborated with the UN to create policies that seek to end child marriage, violence against women and human trafficking. Carolyn was also recently featured in a World Pulse #SheTransformsTech article about her work with girls in Nigeria during the pandemic.
Olamide founded Pearl Recycling, an initiative that collects waste such as plastic, car tires, newspapers and other recyclables and trains youth and women to transform them into furniture and upcycled items.
Olamide was recently included in an International Youth Day campaign by the British High Commission in Nigeria, sharing her thoughts on how young people have the power to create change: “We hope that young people will stop waiting for the world to call them to the table when they can actually build theirs,” she said.
Report Date...: 8/23/21
Fellow launches Inn2preneur-- a platform to inspire innovation
Fellow(s): Ala’a Agha Karss
2017 fellow Ala’a Agha Karss launched a new platform to empower youth and women on their entrepreneurial journeys, sharing best practices for those interested in business, coding and more. On the YouTube channel, Inn2preneur, Ala’a shares tips and advice for people at all levels of entrepreneurship, offering actionable steps that encourage creativity, confidence and innovation.
Ala’a is the founder and CTO of Superiors TechHub, and trains women and youth in coding, mobile app development and more. The Inn2preneur videos share content on how to become a developer, an intro to programming, non-programming jobs in the IT sector and more.
Report Date...: 8/23/21
Fellows hold summer camp for over 100 students
Fellow(s): Damilola Asaleye, Ehi Aigiomawu, Flora Asibe, Happy Amos, Olayinka Fagbemiro and Oluwatoyin Adegoke
This week, 2020-2021 fellows Damilola Asaleye, Ehi Aigiomawu, Flora Asibe, Happy Amos, Olayinka Fagbemiro and Oluwatoyin Adegoke successfully hosted a five day summer camp for children in partnership with the Girls and Women Technological Empowerment Organisation (GWTEO). The EduChamps summer camp is part of the 2020-2021 Nigerian fellows’ action plan project created during the TechWomen program to reduce the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.
The camp was attended by over 100 secondary school students, most of whom were girls. Over five days, the students were placed into break out sessions where each group discussed leadership, efficiency, upcycling, solar energy and sustainability. They also received training on various topics including entrepreneurship, financial literacy, renewable energy, team building, sustainable agriculture and more. In addition to workshops and training, the students heard inspiring keynotes from women in STEM who encouraged them to be ambitious, dream big and believe they can be world leaders.
The goal of the camp was to provide an opportunity for students to network, learn leadership and technical skills and visit educational institutions during the summer break. “Through this program, we believe that these kids are better prepared and inspired to return to school having the right mindset on the importance of education and are empowered with the resources to enable them remain in school,” Flora said. Next, the fellows will continue to work with partners to further prepare the students for the upcoming fall school term.
Report Date...: 8/16/21