Impact Stories from Empowering Women and Girls Policy Area
Fellow shares exchange experience with U.S. alumni network
Fellow(s): Mahina Usmonova
This week, 2016 fellow Mahina Usmonova was invited to reflect on her TechWomen experience in a feature for the U.S. Alumni Network of Tajikistan, a group supported by the U.S. Embassy that brings together U.S. exchange program alumni to share expertise, collaborate and help solve social and economic issues in Tajikistan.
In the post, Mahina speaks about her journey to TechWomen, from finding out she was selected to her mentorship at Mozilla. Although Mahina knew that TechWomen would support her professional goals, she also found a new network of friends, allies and supporters who inspired her to invest in the next generation. “Participating in the Techwomen program has opened up many opportunities to grow and develop,” she says. “I have never wanted to be successful; the main thing for me is to give a feeling of success to others.” In addition to her work as a senior lecturer at the Polytechnic Institute of Tajik Technical University, Mahina is a mentor for the Technovation program as well as a member of the TechWomen/TechGirls Club in Tajikistan.
Report Date...: 5/18/20
Fellow honored at With and For Girls Awards
Fellow(s): Fellow honored at With and For Girls Awards
Recently, 2017 fellow Carolyn Seaman was recognized for her work as a leader, educator and advocate for girls’ rights. Carolyn is the founder of Girls Voices, an initiative that trains and empowers adolescent girls in human rights, STEM skills and leadership. Girls Voices has reached over 300,000 girls through their programs, and has collaborated with the UN to create policies that seek to end child marriage, violence against women and human trafficking.
The awards ceremony, held this March in London by With and For Girls, honored 25 leaders of extraordinary girl-led and girl-centered initiatives. Girls Voices was recognized for promoting a girls’ rights movement in Nigeria and mobilizing girls to learn about their rights in order to positively affect their communities and contribute to national policy.
Report Date...: 5/11/20
Fellow featured for mentoring girls in STEM
Fellow(s): Ruth Kaveke
2017 fellow Ruth Kaveke, founder of Pwani Teknowgalz, was featured in a recent article from Impacthub Media, a platform that features changemakers who are solving the challenges facing Africa and the world.
In “Shining Hope for Girls in Science & Technology,” Ruth shares her story of being raised by a single mother who pushed her to value education, as well as the challenges she faced as a woman often outnumbered by men in her school courses. Ruth also speaks about her work and impact as the founder of Pwani Teknowgalz, her organization that has empowered over 5,000 girls through STEM education. “It is hard for someone to join a career that they do not have someone to relate to,” Ruth says. “By women mentoring and being role models, I am confident more girls will pursue STEM careers.” Recently, Ruth has offered free tech skill training to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a class on website-building using WordPress.com.
Report Date...: 5/4/20
Fellow featured in #HernovationPersonOfTheWeek series
Fellow(s): Sylvia Mukasa
This week, 2014 fellow Sylvia Mukasa was interviewed by CIO East Africa, a leading magazine for East Africa’s ICT industry. She was featured in their #HernovationPersonOfTheWeek series, an ongoing series that celebrates women leaders and innovators in ICT.
The article, “Believe In Yourself As A Woman in Tech; Gender Doesn’t Define Your Capability,” Sylvia shares her TechWomen experience, the lessons she learned as a former Next Einstein Forum Ambassador and her work as the founder and CEO of GlobalX Investments. When asked about her greatest challenge in STEM, Sylvia spoke about facing unconscious bias as a woman in her field. “Some people will never accept that gender does not define what we are capable of,” she said. “I decided to never let them get to my nerves, so I do not wait for their validation, I validate myself and so their opinion does not matter.”
Report Date...: 4/27/20
TechWomen mobilize around the world in response to COVID-19
Fellow(s): Faten Khalfallah, Lindiwe Matlali, Asmara Rahat, Reshma Singh
Country: Cameroon, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, South Africa, Tunisia, United States
Cohort: 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, TechWomen alumnae were already thinking ahead, applying their ingenuity to innovate for change. The latest TechWomen blog features stories of our fellows and mentors who, amidst uncertainty, have gone above and beyond to serve their communities.
After reaching her goal of 3D printing 1,000 masks for hospital staff, 2015 fellow of Tunisia Faten Khalfallah has begun production of protective gowns and face shields, sewing with colorful fabric that will, in her words “spread joy.” Africa Teen Geeks, the initiative founded by 2017 fellow of South Africa Lindiwe Matlali, has launched STEM Lockdown Digital School, a comprehensive online curriculum for students throughout the African continent. As of last week, the school had reached over 53,000 students. In Pakistan, 2019 fellow Asmara Rahat designed the first of its kind SMART thermal scanning and sanitizing gate, a system that both sanitizes and takes temperature readings in order to keep quarantine centers, mosques and public spaces safe. Mentor Reshma Singh created the Emergency Community Food Pantry, organizing volunteers to deliver food and goods to vulnerable families; the pantry has served over 1,000 families and counting. TechWomen will share additional updates as our alumnae continue to innovate, lead and support their communities.
Report Date...: 4/20/2020
Fellow featured as an EdTech leader in Cameroon
Fellow(s): Angele Messa
2019 fellow of Cameroon Angele Messe was recently interviewed for Gal Talks Tech, a website that features inspiring stories from leading women in tech around the world. Angele is the founder of EduClick, an initiative that brings alternative learning solutions to refugees and internally displaced persons in Cameroon. In the feature, Angele speaks about her work as an EdTech entrepreneur and her passion for educating rural youth who don’t have access to quality education. In addition to online learning, EduClick also runs a makerspace that offers classes in 3D printing, coding, virtual gaming and more.
Working in a male-dominated field, Angele strongly believes that women can excel through mentorship and creating supportive communities: “It’s important for women in tech to have that support system which will not only positively impact their professional lives but their personal lives as well,” she says.
Report Date...: 4/20/2020
Fellow leads online bootcamp for women in MENA
Fellow(s): Ala’a Agha Karss
This week, 2017 fellow of Jordan Ala’a Agha Karss hosted “Unleash Your Creativity,” a five-day online bootcamp for women in tech. For four hours each day, 19 women in Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates participated in practical activities and group sessions themed on the principles of design thinking.
Ala’a is a design thinking coach and coding consultant for Superiors TechHub, regularly holding in-person and online learning to empower women and youth throughout the MENA region. In this week’s class, Ala’a used the IDEO model of design thinking, demonstrating how to gather insights, ideate, prototype, and tell stories. In a Facebook post celebrating the conclusion of the training, Ala’a addressed her trainees: “By inspiring and empathizing more, you have been more creative in ideation, and more flexible in prototyping until you crafted your wonderful story. Now you are one of the creatives in the designer community! Keep it up, keep innovating.”
Report Date...: 4/20/20
Mentors visit Pakistan to promote STEM and entrepreneurship
Fellow(s): Eileen Brewer and Cathy Simpson (Mentors)
Country: Pakistan, United States
Recently, longtime mentors Eileen Brewer and Cathy Simpson traveled to Pakistan for three weeks of activities with women, students and community organizations. Organized in partnership with the U.S. Embassy, the trip brought the mentors to universities, incubators and secondary schools throughout Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. Both Eileen and Cathy served as Impact Coaches for Emerging Leaders from Pakistan during TechWomen 2019.
During the trip, Eileen and Cathy held multiple workshops and sessions meant to share knowledge and empower women and girls in STEM fields. At a girl’s school, they held hands-on workshops that exposed students to motherboards, geodomes and STEM games. At the National Skills University in Islamabad, Cathy held a session on 21st century job trends and Agile for success with 50 students. Eileen met with 30 startups at a local makerspace to hold a workshop on how to build successful teams and best practices for pitching. Cathy also organized the Marshmallow Challenge, an activity also used during TechWomen that encourages team problem-solving and cohesion. Eileen and Cathy had the opportunity to reunite with TechWomen fellows from multiple cohorts, including their 2019 mentees Farhat Nadeem, Asna Javed and Ayesha Kahn.
Report Date...: 4/13/20
Fellows conduct online training for remote teaching
Fellow(s): Elena Chigibaeva and Gulzire Minbaeva
This month, 2018 TechWomen fellows Elena Chigibaeva and Gulzire Minbaeva spearheaded online training sessions for educators on best practices for remote teaching. The training was launched through Techaim, an AEIF-winning mentorship program launched by TechWomen fellows from multiple cohorts.
The presentation was attended by over 60 educators from preschools, elementary schools, secondary schools and high schools, as well as professors from the universities. During the session, the fellows demonstrated how to optimize tools such as Google Classroom, Zoom, Canva and Kahoot to digitalize the learning process. Currently, the fellows are working to create a STEAM teachers club in order to share curriculum ideas. “We see ourselves as STEAM promoters in the country and aim to develop the community and STEAM development,” says Elena.
Report Date...: 4/13/20
Fellow launches virtual MENA Startup Summit
Fellow(s): Noha Mahmoud
This month, 2012 fellow Noha Mahmoud launched the inaugural MENA Startup Summit, a one-day online event for founders, designers and developers. Noha, the director of product at Bosta, co-founded the event to inspire the next generation to step into leadership and build exceptional products along the way. The summit featured speakers from throughout the MENA region who shared their expertise in UX, product engineering, building viral startups and more. In one session, a Dubai-based UX specialist presented on commonly held myths and misconceptions when conducting user research. The final session, led by a software engineer, was themed on working from home, incorporating practical tips and tricks for those who are unaccustomed to remote work. The entire summit was recorded, and published on YouTube for free access.
In addition to co-founding the summit, Noha is the chapter president for Arab Women in Computing (ArabWIC) Egypt, leading technical workshops, mentorship sessions and panel discussions for women in technology and academia in her region. Formerly, Noha collaborated with 2014 fellow Yassmeen Abd El Ghaffar to form the Hypatia Initiative for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (HISTEM), an initiative that offered workshops in mobile app development, engineering and science to girls ages 14 to 23.
Report Date...: 4/6/20