Impact Stories from Empowering Women and Girls Policy Area
Fellow launches virtual community for women in MENA
Fellow(s): Haneen Abu Farha
Country: Palestinian Territories
2015 fellow Haneen Abu Farha of the Palestinian Territories recently co-launched Elevated, a virtual community for women in the MENA region. The group, currently on Facebook, connects women to global and regional opportunities, including jobs, fellowships, exchange programs and professional development opportunities. Additionally, Elevated offers resume, cover letter and consulting services to job-seekers as well as candidate matching for job providers.
“The idea came from us three co-founders who have been working together on helping connect women to opportunities in the U.S.,” says Haneen. “We thought we needed to create a community that connects women to opportunities all over the world in an engaging way.” The group recently published a live video featuring the program She Entrepreneurs and soon will launch their “Star of the Month” series, where female professionals share their personal and professional journeys with the community. In the coming year, Elevated hopes to share and amplify TechWomen fellows’ experiences and recruit women throughout the MENA region to apply for TechWomen 2020.
Report Date: 1/21/19
Fellow plans digital empowerment center in Cameroon
Fellow(s): Sophie Ngassa
2014 fellow of Cameroon Sophie Ngassa has broken ground in Douala to launch her new inititiave, a digital empowerment center for women and girls. The initiative, currently called #GiftFromMum, began after Sophie’s mother gifted her land to pursue her passion project. The center will serve as a space where women and girls can acquire digital skills training, participate in STEM-based workshops and learn skills to generate income.
Construction for the digital empowerment center is in progress and will eventually house a workshop, kitchen and offices. Speaking about her vision, Sophie says, “Two years ago it was a conversation, last year it became a plan and this year it is work in progress. We make little steps every day.”
Sophie, a digital rights activist and high school teacher, founded a youth vocational technical training organization, Center for Youth Education and Economic Development, in 2010. She has also served as a mentor for Technovation Cameroon since 2014.
Report Date: 1/14/19
Fellow named finalist for Women in Tech Awards
Fellow(s): Majd Hemiemat
Majd Hemiemat, 2014 fellow of Jordan, was recently named a finalist for Mentor of the Year at this year’s Women in Tech Awards Middle East. The awards aim to increase visibility of women leaders in STEM fields in in the Middle East, where less than 10% of the tech workforce is female.
The award ceremony, held in Dubai this March, will gather business and technology leaders from the region and feature keynote speakers who will inspire women to pursue careers in STEM fields and encourage diversity and representation in tech. Majd, a product manager at Intrasoft Middle East, is also an APMP certified consultant who provides training on proposal management, business writing and contract management to women entrepreneurs, local businesses and students.
Report Date: 1/7/19
Fellow to launch tech curriculum in South African schools
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa
2017 fellow of South Africa Lindiwe Matlali, founder of Africa Teen Geeks, has announced a partnership with the South African Department of Basic Education to develop and implement a digital skills curriculum in South African schools. Lindiwe, a recipient of numerous accolades for her work, will develop a robotics and coding framework that will scale throughout the country over the next five years.
Lindiwe is partnering with City University of New York to develop a curriculum that is not dependent on computer and internet infrastructure, allowing it to be implemented in a greater number of schools across the country. She will also be supported by the network she built during TechWomen, including a connection from Autodesk’s Impact Design Workshop who will focus on developing a curriculum based on innovation.
Lindiwe will also build an online platform that trains South African teachers and provides interactive resources about the coursework. Moving forward, Lindiwe hopes to bring her coding and robotics curriculum to the greater African continent: “We want to inspire the next generation of Africa’s innovators and entrepreneurs,” she says. “We have to teach our children how to innovate as early as possible.”
Report Date: 12/31/18
Mentor(s): Shakhina Pulatova (mentor)
Mentor Type: Professional
TechWomen mentor Shakhina Pulatova recently returned from her travels to Uzbekistan, where she delivered lectures and presentations to university students and women in tech fields. Shakhina collaborated with TechWomen fellows who invited her to speak at various venues throughout Tashkent during her sabbatical from work at LinkedIn. At an event coordinated by Women TechMakers Tashkent, Shakhina spoke to students about entering tech fields and the importance of developing core skills in the rapidly changing job market.
Shakhina also delivered guest lectures at Westminster International University and Inha University about online identity, reputation and product management for students majoring in business information systems, computer science and computer engineering. “I was truly impressed with the enthusiasm, curiosity and eagerness of the next generation to learn and contribute,” she says. “This gives me hope for the tech future in Uzbekistan.”
Report Date: 12/31/18
Fellow hosts Africa Science Week in Cameroon
Fellow(s): Arielle Kitio
2016 fellow of Cameroon Arielle Kitio recently organized a week of lectures, panels and hands-on activities during Next Einstein Forum’s Africa Science Week Cameroon. Arielle, a Next Einstein Forum ambassador, is responsible for driving NEF’s public engagement activities in Cameroon.
Africa Science Week, a weeklong celebration of science and technology, is held in 13 countries throughout the African continent. In Yaoundé, Arielle organized a week of activities meant to inspire the next generation through coding workshops, panels on artificial intelligence, solar energy seminars, hackathons and more. She partnered with local educators, entrepreneurs and makers to deliver programming to both primary schools as well as local universities.
Report Date: 12/31/18
Fellow named Woman of the Year in digital technology
Fellow(s): Ines Nasri
2014 fellow of Tunisia Ines Nasri was named Woman of the Year in the digital technology category at the first ARVEA Women Awards held recently in Tunisia. The awards honor Tunisian women who inspire and encourage others to be bold, successful and follow a path of innovation. The jury was led by Tunisia’s former Minister of Culture and comprised leading women entrepreneurs, researchers and tech experts.
Ines is the founder of WebPower Tunisie, a recognized Tunisian digital web agency specializing in web and social marketing, web development and brand content. In a guest blog written shortly after her TechWomen experience, Ines described starting WebPower with limited resources and nearly no budget. Participating in TechWomen helped develop her leadership skills, making her a better communicator and more effective manager. “I came back from Silicon Valley with a HUGE amount of energy and felt empowered and so optimistic,” she wrote.
In addition to WebPower, Ines founded Tunisia Digital Day, an annual digital marketing event that brings together professionals, students and businesses to raise awareness about opportunities in technology fields.
Report Date: 12/24/18
Mentor(s): Myra Nawabi
Company: Lockheed Martin
Mentor Type: Impact
Longtime TechWomen mentor Myra Nawabi was named Business Leader of the Year at the inaugural Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley held last week in San Francisco. The event is part of the Women in IT Awards Series, a program that holds events in Ireland, London, New York and Singapore. The awards aim to rectify the gender imbalance in tech through showcasing women who pave the way for gender equality and serve as role models for women entering technology fields.
Myra, a senior project engineer, was recognized for her outstanding business leadership at Lockheed Martin. “This was an amazing event, and I am truly humbled by the recognition,” she said. “My grandmother never got the opportunity to read or write. While her dreams were cut short, her granddaughter gets to live her dreams of space every day. I get to build satellites and empower other women to pursue their own dreams.”
Myra has been a part of the TechWomen mentor community since 2013, serving as a Cultural Mentor, Impact Coach and member of Emerging Leader selection committees.
Report Date: 12/3/18
Fellow launches coding school for local youth
Fellow(s): Natalya Tyudina
2018 fellow of Tajikistan Natalya Tyudina recently launched ilmhona, a non-profit initiative with a mission to increase digital literacy among youth in Tajikistan. The pilot project, which will begin in January, recently began accepting applications and will select 20 girls and 20 boys to begin a three-month coding curriculum. The program will include HTML and CSS training and a course on Android application development.
After successfully completing the course, students will have the opportunity to participate in a one-month internship during which they will develop projects to tackle social challenges in Tajikistan. The ilmhona team is first launching the initiative in the capital city of Dushanbe, and Natalya hopes to expand into other cities in the near future.
Report Date: 12/3/18
Fellow(s): Cynthia Leung
Country: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, United States, Uzbekistan
During her travels through Central Asia, longtime TechWomen mentor Cynthia Leung, formerly of SunPower, coordinated with fellows in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to deliver more than 10 talks and workshops discussing mentorship, gender equality in STEM fields, sustainability and her TechWomen experiences.
In Uzbekistan, Cynthia presented on the power of mentorship, sharing best practices on how to be an effective mentor and mentee. She also visited universities and maker spaces like Curiosity Maker Space, where she hosted an interactive solar energy workshop for children. In Kazakhstan, Cynthia visited the American Corner and Maker Space and IQcoworking, teaching techniques on self-development and cultivating a culture of innovation.
“This trip was about having impact and spending time meaningfully and intentionally,” she said. In all three countries, Cynthia was hosted by TechWomen fellows, reconnecting with former mentees and meeting potential applicants for TechWomen 2019.
Report Date: 11/26/18