Impact Stories from Empowering Women and Girls Policy Area
With T.I.M.E for Women fellows inspire a new generation
Fellow(s): Mutriba Akhmedova, Anzurat Kosimova
Cohort: 2015, 2016
Fellows Mutriba Akhmedova (2015) and Anzurat Kosimova (2016) have launched T.I.M.E for Women, a project that works with women and girls to expand their IT knowledge and skills. T.I.M.E – which stands for Technology, Innovation, Management and Entrepreneurship – is a new venture of SheCanDoIT, the fellows’ initiative that was recently named a grantee of the 2020 Democracy Commission Small Grants Program from the U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan. The program focuses on initiatives centered on social empowerment, entrepreneurship and skills development.
Through SheCanDoIT, the fellows will encourage and inspire girls to enter the IT field. “Our name contains our main goal,” says Mutriba. “Women can do everything and be successful in IT.” The T.I.M.E for Women platform launched in October, and will soon offer women and girls training in both technical and soft skills: app development, cybersecurity, IoT, leadership, communication and more. They will also offer professional advice that will prepare Tajik women for the TechWomen application and other exchange program opportunities. Already, the platform features videos from three fellows – Mahina Usmonova (2016), Natalya Tyudina (2018) and Zevar Davlatmamadova (2018) – who offer motivational speeches on their journeys in IT. “TechWomen connected us, but we are also connected by our common goals and mission,” says Mutriba. “We want to change the views of our society. We want to bring IT and innovative ideas to our country. Together, we can achieve more. And as TechWomen says, we are empowered to empower.”
Report Date...: 11/16/20
Fellows collaborate for Facebook Live event
Fellow(s): Racha Bia and Sabine Kai
Country: Algeria, Lebanon
Last year, 2014 fellow of Algeria Racha Bia founded TecHealth Voice, an online platform that shares YouTube videos, podcasts and Facebook Live interviews themed on health, science and amplifying women in tech in Algeria and beyond. In addition to running TecHealth Voice, Racha is a regional ambassador for Technovation Algeria, working with girls to create innovative tech solutions to real-world problems.
This week, Racha launched Tuesday live talks on TecHealth’s Facebook page, a weekly series aimed at empowering diverse voices in tech. Her first guest was 2014 fellow of Lebanon Sabine Kai, the founder and managing director of Kids Genius, a STEM-based initiative that spreads maker culture to young students through hands-on activities and courses in their maker hubs throughout Lebanon. In the live event, Sabine shared her journey in entrepreneurship and experiences as a woman engineer, speaking about how her curiosity for STEM as a young child developed into a country-wide business that spreads maker culture to kids. During their talk, Sabine said that her workshops go beyond teaching students hands-on skills – they also empower them with confidence and problem-solving abilities. “It’s not only about teaching kids technology,” said Sabine. “To me, we’re building the personality of a maker, someone who doesn’t wait for someone to bring the solution for them. They start by building it from scratch.”
Report Date...: 11/9/20
Fellow featured as African Union changemaker
Fellow(s): Angele Messa
This week, 2019 fellow Angele Messe and her organization, EduClick, were featured for Africa Youth Month 2020. The month-long campaign is sponsored by the African Union, a continental body that promotes unity, solidarity and building a more prosperous and peaceful Africa.
The African Union’s One Million by 2021 Initiative aims to create one million opportunities for young people through jobs, engagement and entrepreneurship. For the month of November, One Million by 2021’s African Youth Month is amplifying voices in Africa that work towards educating and empowering young people. As founder of EduClick, Angele brings innovative alternative learning solutions to underserved and displaced communities in Cameroon. Through an SMS learning system integrated into EduClick’s platform, school children can access lessons and exams without the need for an internet connection.
Report Date...: 11/9/20
Mentor(s): Jeannice Samani (mentor)
Mentor Type: Professional
TechWomen mentor Jeannice Samani helped kick-off the TechWomen virtual fall program by serving as a Facilitator for a Professional Interest Group, taking a group of Emerging Leaders through five weeks of modules that explored women in leadership, impact models for change, design thinking and more. In addition to working as senior director of information technology and systems engineering at Nextogen, Jeannice founded Global Tea Party, an online global gathering featuring leaders who share their journeys and expertise.
As the Professional Interest Groups reached their conclusion, Jeannice invited her Emerging Leaders to join a Global Tea Party event to share their experiences as international women leaders. Emerging Leaders Amanda Calitz of South Africa, Imane Berchane of Morocco, Flora Asibe of Nigeria and Manizha Khailobekova from Tajikistan were featured at the online gathering, together discussing global diversity, equity and inclusion. Amanda spoke about how growing up in South Africa helped her to become a bridge-builder, saying “We need to understand each other’s background and give everyone a chance to be the best they can be.” Flora discussed how leaders are made and not born, stressing that successful leadership demands hard work, patience and empathy. “We worked, laughed, and share together,” says Jeannice. “I am looking forward to our friendship and mentorship growing. It is an honor.”
Report Date...: 11/10/20
Fellow featured as founder of Girls Fly Programme Africa
Fellow(s): Refilwe Ledwaba
Country: South Africa
2019 fellow Refilwe Ledwaba was highlighted in Nsesa Foundation’s STEM Wow series, featured for her work as a social entrepreneur, founder and South Africa’s first black female helicopter pilot.
As founder of Girls Fly Programme Africa, Refilwe works to educate girls about aviation and aerospace. Their programs include a yearly aviation and space camp as well as a mentorship and scholarship program. In her Stem Wow feature, Refilwe speaks about growing up surrounded by strong female role models and learning the importance of women supporting other women. Although she originally hoped to become a doctor, Refilwe went on to break barriers in aviation, receive the Amelia Earhart Memorial scholarship and most recently was chosen as an Obama Foundation leader. Refilwe also spoke about the challenges and stereotypes she faced on her journey to achieving her goals, emphasizing the importance of perseverance: “I always say fight with your books and let your work speak for you,” she says.
Report Date...: 11/2/20
Emerging Leaders share challenges and triumphs in guest posts
Fellow(s): Zeinab El Sayed & Isha Sesay
Country: Egypt, Sierra Leone
As the guest blog post series Emerging Leader Voices continues, two TechWomen 2020-2021 Emerging Leaders have authored guest posts, sharing their struggles, achievements and journeys to TechWomen. In her blog post, Zeinab El Sayed of Egypt writes about her family’s support that laid the foundation for her achievements in her field. “STEM fields are always inviting women to excel,” she writes. “Whatever the challenge is; the above and more can be achieved by passion and hard work.”
In “The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” Emerging Leader Isha Sesay of Sierra Leone writes about her inspiration to enter the public health field. After seeing community members dying from vaccine-preventable diseases, Isha became determined to combat preventable diseases in Sierra Leone and beyond. Through her work in the Field Epidemiology Training Program, Isha has trained three cohorts of frontline epidemiologists, and personally mentored 15 individuals.
Report Date...: 11/2/20
Fellow brings equal access to education for Kyrgyz students
Fellow(s): Gulzire Minbaeva
During TechWomen 2018, Gulzire Minbaeva, a teacher in applied math and informatics, had the opportunity to visit Khan Academy headquarters in Mountain View. The site visit was facilitated by her TechWomen Professional Mentor Nancy Hang, who organized a meeting with Khan Academy’s international communication officer. There, Gulzire expressed interest in becoming an official language advocate for Khan Academy Kyrgyzstan. Language advocates are international volunteers who translate and localize the academy’s educational content, working with schools and community partners to further their mission of providing accessible and free education to anyone.
Gulzire maintained her connection to the academy when she returned home, and in 2019 was officially selected as a language advocate for Khan Academy Kyrgyzstan. Today, Gulzire and her team of project managers, proofreaders, methodologists and over 200 volunteers are working to empower students to reach their full potential by providing them with effective learning opportunities. Gulzire has translated and recreated 13 video lessons, organized education fundraising events and recruited regional teacher ambassadors from all regions of Kyrgyzstan. Her work and advocacy has gained attention from the media, leading to a recent interview that features her impact. “We believe that all knowledge-seeking youth of Kyrgyzstan should have access to quality and free education,” says Gulzire. “As a proud alumna of TechWomen, I can surely say that the program enhanced my understanding of how little actions can help to make a big difference in society.”
Report Date...: 10/26/20
Fellow shares her story as a Muslim woman in tech
Fellow(s): Fatima Zohra Benhamida
This week, 2017 fellow Fatima Zohra Benhamida was interviewed for Tech Sisters, an online community and platform that challenges the perception of Muslim women and amplifies women in technology fields. 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. In the feature, Fatima speaks about her passion for STEM fields, the power of mentorship and how tech can become more welcoming to women and girls.
When Fatima was a computer science student, 10% of students at the university were women. “Now, I’m delighted to say that half of the students in my class are women. In the same university, we went from 10% to 50%,” she says. Fatima also shares advice for Muslim women — and all women — who are struggling to find the self-confidence to take risks: “When you believe in something hard enough, you can stick with it. You’ll fight, and fail, and rise again until you get there. You have to fight for your dreams, and I know you can do it!”
Report Date...: 10/26/20
2020-2021 Emerging Leader of Tajikistan authors guest blog
Fellow(s): Manizha Khailobekova
TechWomen Emerging Leader Manizha Khailobekova of Tajikistan is the latest guest author on the TechWomen blog, sharing her background, passions and journey in STEM. Manizha’s post is part of the TechWomen Emerging Leader Voices series, which invites TechWomen Emerging Leaders to share their voice, perspective and experiences with the TechWomen community.
At Central Asia Institute Tajikistan, Manizha works to bring equal education access to communities throughout Central Asia. In her post, “Educate a girl and change the world,” she recounts the struggle of being a mother while remaining ambitious in pursuing her educational goals. Manizha also writes about her motivation to pursue an international exchange experience, reflecting on the opportunity to challenge her existing beliefs and exchange ideas with women around the world. “People usually avoid changes, and prefer to stay in their comfort zones,” she writes. “But I am true believer that once you get the courage and take the first step to change, your life will become much better.”
Report Date...: 10/19/20
a hands-on learning kit
Fellow(s): Aseel Honein
2013 fellow Aseel Honein has launched Architecture in a Box, a new company that provides hands-on kits teaching the principles of architecture, building and environmental sustainability to youth ages eight to 17. Aseel, an architect and university instructor, wanted to increase the visibility of the architecture field and inspire women and girls to pursue careers in a historically male-dominated space.
In Lebanon, most students are not introduced to architecture, urban planning or interior design at school, and many women trained in architecture are not actively employed as architects. “Due to many challenges, there are no opportunities for all graduates, engineers, and architects in Lebanon,” says Aseel. “Therefore, proper career orientation and design thinking tools and resources are required to create new opportunities.” Each kit provides interactive activities that teach youth about sustainable building, creative problem solving and critical thinking; Architecture in a Box will also offer complimentary workshops to schools that use the kits in their classrooms. Last year, Aseel had an opportunity to pilot her prototype boxes with 100 girls at an event run by Girls Got IT, an initiative co-founded by two Lebanese TechWomen fellows that exposes girls ages 15-17 to STEM through interactive workshops. As the company grows, Aseel hopes to create more kits that will spark creativity, create environmental awareness and help inspire youth – especially girls – to pursue a career in architecture.
Report Date...: 10/12/20