Impact Stories from Empowering Women and Girls Policy Area
IIE collaborates with fellows’ initiatives for 2019 program
Fellow(s): Sabine El Kahi, Aiturgan Zulpukarova, Mide Ayeni
Country: Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Nigeria
Cohort: 2014, 2017
This year, IIE collaborated with three fellows to bring items from their initiatives to this year’s TechWomen company partners and speakers. Each product – wooden pens, fabric notebooks and wool business card holders – was handcrafted by participants in each fellow’s community-based initiative.
2014 fellow of Lebanon Sabine El Kahi supplied wooden pens from Kids Genius, her STEM-based initiative that spreads maker culture to young students. “The pens were made by our team with the help of three students with learning difficulties,” says Sabine. “Making the pens allowed them to learn, develop new skills and improve their confidence in their abilities.”
2017 fellow of Kyrgyzstan Aiturgan Zulpukarova is the founder of Kuragami, an initiative that works with women artisans in the Issyk-Kul region of Kyrgyzstan to make sustainable and ethically sourced products. Aiturgan supplied business card holders made of merino wool and naturally hand-dyed with walnut leaves. 2017 fellow of Nigeria Mide Ayeni supplied notebooks made from recycled paper and upcycled African ankara fabric made by women in Nigeria. Mide is the founder of 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. All items will serve as gestures of appreciation for the companies and speakers that contribute to the 2019 program.
Report Date...: 8/26/19
Mentor(s): Jill Finlayson (mentor)
Company: Women in Technology Initiative at UC Berkeley
Mentor Type: Impact, Professional
This week, longtime TechWomen mentor Jill Finlayson led a panel discussion alongside fellow women in tech at the Berkeley Skydeck, UC Berkeley’s startup accelerator and incubator.
The panel, sponsored by Silicon Valley Bank, brought together four women with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to discuss the role of women in technical fields. Throughout the event, the panelists shared the challenges they’ve faced in their roles in venture capital, healthtech and STEM non-profits. They also discussed strategies they’ve learned in navigating the tech landscape while promoting the equitable inclusion of women.
Jill is the director for the Women in Technology Initiative at UC Berkeley. Through her work, she creates best practices that promote the equitable participation and success of women in tech.
Report Date...: 8/19/19
Fellow teaches masterclass to young women in tech
Fellow(s): Natsai Mutezo
2018 fellow Natsai Mutezo recently held a masterclass for young women in Zimbabwe, sharing her perspective on thriving in a male-dominated field and achieving work-life balance.
The event, Girls Rock, aims to connect leaders in business and technology with young women to share advice and best practices. In her talk, Natsai, a chemical technologist and innovation consultant, spoke about her career highlights and challenges. She shared how she has navigated being a wife and mother while remaining ambitious in her career, emphasizing that women bring unique capabilities and strengths to their professional roles. “My biggest theme was to be your authentic self, as it was one of my biggest takeaways during TechWomen,” said Natsai. “I also highlighted that when you are doing what you do with passion, people will notice you.”
Report Date...: 8/19/19
2018 seed grant winners implement community initiatives
Fellow(s): 2018 Seed grant-winning teams
Country: Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zimbabwe
TechWomen 2018 seed grant-winning teams from Rwanda, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan and Nigeria have begun implementation of their impact projects that address leading challenges in their communities. Each team has written a guest post on the TechWomen blog that highlights their mission, progress and future goals.
Since TechWomen 2018, Rwandan team Healing Together has collaborated with community partners to train counselors on supporting women survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi. In Lebanon, My ioLab is educating and empowering youth to scale up their IoT knowledge while addressing real-world issues. At hands-on workshops in Lebanon, Berlin, Singapore and Uzbekistan, the fellows have taught youth to address environmental issues in their community through innovative technology.
Through their initiative Vheneka/Khanyisa, fellows of Zimbabwe have traveled to schools, rural farming communities and prisons to train 525 women and girls on making reusable sanitary pads using sustainable materials. In Kazakhstan, the interactive website Uki.kz provides a safe space for domestic violence victims to gather resources and connect to professionals. Team Nigeria’s initiative, MAAMI, is addressing the maternal mortality rate by providing mobile education that connects women to safe and reliable healthcare. The fellows have a goal of onboarding 500 women, and have already registered 300 women to receive mobile health updates.
Report Date...: 8/12/19
Fellow named to Inspiring 50 South Africa list
Fellow(s): Dr. Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye
Country: South Africa
This month, it was announced that 2018 fellow Dr. Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye has been selected for the 2019 Inspiring 50 South Africa list. Established by CoCreateSANL, the Inspiring 50 list recognizes women in STEM fields that serve as role models and leaders in their communities. Through honoring women leaders, CoCreateSANL hopes to increase the visibility of diverse women in STEM and inspire girls to choose a STEM career.
This year, CoCreateSANL received nearly 400 nominations, and winners were chosen by a panel of distinguished women leaders throughout South Africa. Tozama is a project director at VAAL University of Technology, leading pioneering research that brings traditional African medicine to mainstream healthcare. Through her work, Tozama aims to preserve, promote and protect traditional healing as a holistic healthcare practice.
Report Date...: 8/12/19
Fellow speaks at UNDP event for women leaders in STEM
Fellow(s): Anara Molkenova
Recently, 2017 fellow of Kazakhstan Anara Molkenova was a featured panelist at an event hosted by UNDP Kazakhstan themed on bringing together young women leaders in STEM to exchange ideas, share achievements and speak about the future of women-led enterprises in the country.
At the event, Anara participated in a panel titled “Dialogue with youth leaders in STEM and women-led SMEs.” There, she shared her experience as a woman in science in Kazakhstan and spoke about how she persevered despite the biases and obstacles she and other women in her field have faced.
Report Date...: 8/12/19
Fellow travels to U.S. for workshop with UNICEF
Fellow(s): Kumba Musa
Country: Sierra Leone
Recently, 2015 fellow Kumba Musa traveled to New York to represent the government of Sierra Leone at the UNICEF Artificial Intelligence and Children’s Rights workshop at their company headquarters. Kumba is a data scientist at the Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation, an initiative of the Sierra Leonean government that uses science and tech to deliver on the country’s national development plan.
During the workshop, Kumba particpated in a panel that explored the role of governments and organizations in AI policy and strategy, discussing how new technologies can be applied to promote children’s rights internationally. Together, participants explored resources and tools that can help move from policy to practice in ensuring the protection of children’s rights. “AI technologies are increasingly embedded in children’s toys, tools and classrooms, creating a sophisticated new approach to education and child development,” says Kumba. “As a result, policymakers should collaborate closely with technical researchers to investigate, prevent and mitigate potential malicious uses of AI.”
In addition to her work with DSTI, Kumba is the founder and executive director of STEM Women SL, an initiative that works to increase the representation of women in STEM fields throughout Sierra Leone.
Report Date...: 8/5/19
Mentor(s): Anar Simpson
Mentor Type: Impact
This week, TechWomen Impact Coach and strategic partnership advisor Anar Simpson was featured in MentorTalks, a new series from International Exchange Alumni. With the aim of connecting exchange program alumni with experts in their fields, MentorTalks features live interactive conversations and Q&A’s with viewers around the world.
In the Facebook Live event, Anar spoke about empowering women in tech as a TechWomen mentor, Technovation regional ambassador and member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. She encouraged women and girls to expand their knowledge of the tech landscape, emphasizing the importance of networking in finding new passions and new career opportunities. When a young viewer asked about entering STEM fields, Anar spoke about how programs like TechWomen and Technovation empower women and girls to create impact in their home countries. “It’s not always easy, but it’s getting better,” said Anar. “It’s young people like you that have solutions that can change the world of tomorrow.”
Report Date...: 8/5/19
Fellow leads bootcamp for emerging women in tech
Fellow(s): Ala’a Agha Karss
This week, 2017 fellow Ala’a Agha Karss concluded a two-month tech bootcamp for women in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The training, Pink Android Bootcamp, was designed and led by Ala’a,
the founder and CTO of Superiors TechHub. Although Ala’a frequently leads the training for women in Jordan, this was her first opportunity to bring her curriculum to women in Saudi Arabia.
Over the course of the intensive training, Ala’a led 53 women in sessions on coding, mobile app development, design thinking and developing an entrepreneurial mindset. Together, the women created innovative projects and built mobile platforms that addressed leading issues in their communities. At the end of the training, the women pitched their platforms to a jury of innovation labs, connecting to entrepreneurs and companies that can help bring their projects to life.
Report Date...: 8/5/19
Fellow hosts coding bootcamp and hackathon for girls
Fellow(s): Carolyn Seaman
This month, 2017 fellow Carolyn Seaman hosted Tech Tackle, a coding boot camp and hackathon for 45 adolescent girls representing 10 public schools throughout Nigeria.
The inaugural program, held in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, began with a three-week intensive coding bootcamp hosted by Carolyn’s organization, Girls Voices. With hands-on training and one-on-one mentoring, the girls designed innovative tech solutions for critical social issues in their country. Through lessons on design thinking, coding and research, the teams addressed challenges such as human trafficking, crime prevention and corruption, with a particular focus on how these issues affect young girls in Nigeria.
The training culminated in a pitch competition, where the teams presented their solutions to a panel of judges. Their ideas included a website that addresses gender-based violence, an app with voice recognition that can sense distress and send help and camera technology that can work to deter child traffickers. The top five teams are currently participating in a five-week Python training, and select teams will travel to the U.S. to represent Nigeria at a global hackathon at Google in Silicon Valley.
Report Date...: 7/29/19