Impact Stories from Empowering Women and Girls Policy Area
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
In article fellow is recognized for work fighting deforestation
Fellow(s): Davephine Tholley
Country: Sierra Leone
2018 fellow Davephine Tholley was featured in an article from The Urban Activist, an online publication that features stories of positive social impact in cities throughout the world. The article features Davephine’s recent work combatting deforestation in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where she is studying the damage of deforestation and working to restore Freetown’s natural infrastructure.
Davephine, a civil engineer and operations manager for Water4Ever, is also a part of the Women4Climate mentorship program, an initiative that empowers and supports women climate leaders. She was recently part of an assessment studying how forest felling depletes water levels and affects the supply of drinking water for the people of Freetown. “I have seen firsthand the challenges people face to access water,” said Davephine. “They are basically cut off from water supply.” After recently visiting a region in urgent need of reforestation, Davephine worked with local authorities and volunteers to plant 500 trees in an effort to reforest and restore the area.
Report Date...: 12/14/20
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
Fellow shares career in IT to inspire women and girls
Fellow(s): Ainura Sagyn
This week, 2017 fellow of Kyrgyzstan Ainura Sagyn participated in a panel discussion on the prospects and challenges for women in IT. The online event included alumni of the Chevening Scholarship and was hosted by UK Alumni Kyrgyzstan alongside the British Embassy Bishkek.
During the discussion, Ainura spoke about her career in IT, including her experience last month at the Apple Entrepreneur Camp. There, she further developed Tazar, her startup and waste management mobile application that reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. Recently updated with new features, the app includes maps with collection points for recyclable materials, a platform that offers education on sorting recyclables and a platform for citizens and collectors to connect for more efficient collections.
Ainura also spoke about the next step in her professional development, a joint master’s degree in computer vision and image processing at the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid.
Report Date...: 11/30/20
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