Impact Stories from Empowering Women and Girls Policy Area
Fellow delivers keynote for UNESCO World Engineering Day
Fellow(s): Lucy Mutinda
2016 fellow Lucy Mutinda was invited to deliver the keynote address at the UNESCO World Engineering Day celebration on March 4. The event, held at the University of Nairobi, brought together leading engineers, professors and leaders to talk about this year’s theme, “Engineering for a Healthy Planet.”
Lucy is the CEO of Ecocycle, a company that focuses on environmental solutions to recycle sewage into clean, usable water. She is also the founder of Envirologic, a sustainability consultancy company. In her keynote, Lucy spoke about how engineers can ensure the UN SDG’s can be not just implemented, but also sustained, for generations to come. “There is need to identify ways in which learning institutions will optimally train the next generation of engineers who can help solve the world’s most pressing economic and environmental challenges,” she said. Training a new generation, she argued, requires early investment in STEM education for youth. She also emphasized the importance of hiring and retaining women engineers: “There has to be a deliberate push to transform the patriarchal spaces and culture of work in engineering” she said. “This can be through special measures like flexible working hours, childcare support, parental leave, and other leadership growth incentives.”
Report Date...: 3/1/21
Fellow wins 2021 Women of Wonder Award
Fellow(s): Iqra Hameed
This week, 2019 fellow Iqra Hameed was named a winner of the 2021 Women of Wonder Awards, an annual campaign that honors Pakistani women who are creating an impact in the country. The campaign is hosted by Women of Wonder Pakistan, an initiative that highlights and amplifies women leaders and contributes to their professional development through mentorship and training.
Iqra, a product manager, was a winner in the Technology and Innovation category, recognized by a panel of 12 judges for her work advancing innovation as well as for being a role model for girls. Iqra is also a part of Innovation Valley, an online community that creates conversation around innovation, digital transformation and 21st century skills. Through meet-ups, webinars and skills training, Iqra hopes to create a supportive community dedicated to the advancement on innovation in Pakistan and beyond.
Report Date...: 3/1/21
At FemTech Fest fellows support women entrepreneurs
Fellow(s): Binta Moustapha and Stella Uzochukwu
Cohort: 2014, 2019
Women operate 41% of micro businesses in Nigeria, yet 55% of financially excluded adults in Nigeria are women. At this year’s Arewa FemTech Fest, a virtual event and hackathon, 2014 fellow Binta Moustapha and 2019 fellow Stella Uzochukwu helped address the challenges and needs of Northern Nigeria’s women entrepreneurs. The event was organized by Financial Services Innovators, a Nigerian association, alongside Startup Arewa, an incubator for tech entrepreneurs.
The event’s mission was to increase financial inclusion among women entrepreneurs by introducing simple and easy-to-use Fintech for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s) in Northern Nigeria. In the kick-off event, Binta, joined by CEOs and local Fintech leaders, participated in a webinar that discussed the needs of women entrepreneurs. Binta is the founder of 100 Women in Tech Nigeria, an initiative that amplifies Nigerian women leaders. Together, the panelists spoke about how financial services can serve women and the ways in which Fintech solutions can be made accessible to all.
The webinar was followed by an eight-day virtual hackathon where over 100 innovators designed practical solutions for the women entrepreneurs. Stella, the country director for the Odyssey Educational Foundation, served as a judge, helping choose the first, second and third place winners, all of whom received cash prizes to bring their solutions to market.
Report Date...: 2/22/21
Fellow is first Jordanian to be named 2021 Influential Leader
Fellow(s): Hiba Shabrouq
This week, 2017 fellow Hiba Shabrouq was named a 2021 Influential Leader by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), an international association that brings together business, students and educators to amplify innovation and impact business education. The annual initiative recognizes leaders who are using their business education to create impact.
Hiba, the first Jordanian to be honored by AACSB, was nominated by Princess Sumaya University For Technology. She was highlighted in the “Diversity and Inclusion” category. In her feature, Hiba is recognized for co-founding Ozwah, a 2017 TechWomen seed grant-winning mentorship and training program for Jordanian girls in orphanages. She is also a financial skills mentor at INJAZ, a Jordanian nonprofit that trains young people with entrepreneurship and financial skills.
Report Date...: 2/22/21
Through Ekasi Pioneers fellow helps over 100 rural businesses
Fellow(s): Nobukhosi Dlamini
Country: South Africa
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2019 fellow Nobukhosi Dlamini launched a digital enablement program that supports women-led small businesses in rural South Africa. The program, Ekasi Pioneers, is implemented through the GIFT Foundation, Nobukhosi’s NGO that connects rural women and girls to tech training and job opportunities.
Kicking-off with funding from the U.S. Consulate General Cape Town, GIFT created its first virtual digital enablement training for 50 rural female small business owners, supporting them in pivoting their businesses from in-person to online operations. Through a comprehensive curriculum which included lessons in digital marketing, purchasing and setting up a website, online advertising and scaling an online business, the women learned how to successfully migrate their businesses in order to adhere to local social distancing and lockdown regulations. They were also trained in soft skills, learning about leadership, confidence-building and adopting a growth mindset. At the end of the training, all 50 businesses – catering companies, construction businesses, retail stores and more – successfully migrated online. “These women are reporting that the visibility of their businesses has increased, they are receiving more inquiries and sales and their businesses have been able to weather the storms of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Nobukhosi. GIFT has already begun a second digital enablement training with funding from the UK government; their cohort of 60 women is due to graduate later this month.
Report Date...: 2/15/21
Mentor(s): Sheryl Walton
Mentor Type: Professional
TechWomen mentor Sheryl Walton shared her lessons on mentorship, diversity and the importance of cultural exchange in a recent interview hosted by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The interview was a part of a month-long series in celebration of Black History Month that highlights women leaders sharing why diversity matters.
Sheryl, a senior manager for enterprise service desk and asset management at Autodesk, was interviewed by U.S. Department of State program manager Angela Woods and hosted on the Exchange Programs – U.S. Department of State Facebook page. During their conversation, Sheryl spoke about how she honors black history, and the importance of inclusion in the workplace: “The importance of us having a seat at the table is what is going to drive the success of technology,” she said. “It’s not going to happen by keeping us out.” Sheryl also spoke about serving as a TechWomen mentor and the lessons she’s learned along the way: “Be open, be honest, and bring another woman along with you during this journey,” she said. “I always try my best to send the elevator down to bring people back up.”
Report Date...: 2/15/21
Fellow speaks about being differently-abled in IBM feature
Fellow(s): Asna Javed
Policy Area(s): Empowering Women and Girls
2019 fellow Asna Javed shared about being differently-abled and overcoming challenges in a recent video feature from IBM. The video, You are Enough as you Are, was shared on the YouTube page for IBM’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Fast Start Women’s Experience, a platform that features inspirational lessons on resilience and hope from IBM employees. Asna is a lead developer advocate at IBM Pakistan.
Asna was born without arms, but was told as a child that she could accomplish anything. “My mom taught me that I could be whoever I want to be – she never even said I was different,” Asna said. Asna also spoke about the difficulties she has faced, and how she is motivated to show that she is just as competent as anyone else. “People around me always doubted my capabilities,” she said. “It made me resilient to prove them wrong and show them that I can be whoever I want to be.”
Report Date...: 2/15/21
Fellow authors post for UN Women’s Generation Equality
Fellow(s): Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova
2019 fellow Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova authored a post for UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign, writing about the challenges women and girls face and calling for greater awareness of gender issues among educators, media and leaders.
Kyzzhibek is the program director for the Kyrgyz Space Programme, an all-women team working to build Kyrgyzstan’s first nanosatellite. The core team is comprised of women ages 18-24, many of whom are not trained in STEM fields. Together, they are learning skills in robotics, 3D printing, engineering and satellite technology, innovating for their country and combatting stereotypes along the way.
In her post, Kyzzhibek writes that many expect their project to fail, just because of their gender: “The first element [for failure] for them is the presence of women and girls in the team,” she writes. As a response, Kyzzhibek and her team are motivated to fulfill their mission of educating women and girls in STEM while raising awareness about inequity. “The program has an amazing mission to empower girls and women in science and raise awareness about gender inequality and harmful social norms, which require systemic change,” she writes. “We want to show by our own example that girls are capable of anything, even reaching for the stars.”
Report Date...: 2/8/21
Mentor(s): Paria Rajai (mentor)
Mentor Type: Impact
TechWomen mentor Paria Rajai recently co-authored an article on why women of color are historically undervalued when it comes to leadership roles, and the steps companies can take to spark systemic change. The article, Does Your Definition of Leadership Exclude Women of Color?, was published by Harvard Business Review.
Paria is the founder and CEO of ModelExpand, a workplace strategy firm centered on inclusion, fair hiring and helping companies build a diverse workforce. Paria’s co-author, Marlette Jackson, serves as an advisor for ModelExpand. “The attributes companies often look for in leaders, such as competitive, dominant, objective, self-confident, aggressive, ambitious, are overwhelmingly masculine,” they write. “This leaves women of color (WOC) at a double disadvantage: They often don’t fit companies’ measures for leadership, because those measures were developed for someone else.” Paria and Marlette argue that creating change does not necessarily require “reinventing the wheel;” instead, companies can start to redefine leadership by adjusting hiring and retention criteria and providing more resources to employees.
Report Date...: 2/8/21
Mentor(s): Jill Finlayson (mentor)
Company: Women in Technology Initiative at UC Berkeley
Mentor Type: Impact, Professional
TechWomen mentor Jill Finlayson has been moderating a regular speaker series that spotlights corporate leaders making a difference in the diversity, equity and inclusion space.
Jill, the director of the Women in Technology Initiative (WITI) at the University of California, works to promote the equitable participation and success of women in tech across four UC campuses.
The Leaders in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Speaker Series highlights leaders from Uber, Amazon, Siemens and other corporations who share their journeys and insights as DEI advocates. Through amplifying diverse leaders’ successes and strategies, Jill hopes to encourage other companies to expand their DEI programs and works towards a more equitable workplace for all. WITI’s next event on February 16 will feature Shareka Nelson, the global head of diversity, inclusion and belonging at Coursera.
Report Date...: 2/1/21