Impact Stories from Environmental Sustainability Policy Area
Fellow’s initiative wins UN Global Climate Action Award
Fellow(s): Ryme Assaad
RISE2030, the green tech initiative co-founded by 2018 fellow Ryme Assaad, was recently named a winner of the 2020 United Nations Global Climate Action Awards. The awards recognized 13 projects that are innovating for climate action and demonstrating leadership in their countries. RISE2030 was a winner in the “Women for Results” category.
Established in 2019, RISE2030 is a community-led initiative that empowers underserved women and youth through training, education and employment opportunities. Their projects – which include solar installation, literacy training and support for women farmers – aim to create sustainable communities and contribute to Lebanon’s energy transition. Their latest project will create 500 job opportunities for people affected by the 2020 Beirut explosion. Last month, all award winners showcased in a series of special online events.
Report Date...: 1/11/21
Fellow leads mentorship initiative for indigenous women
Fellow(s): Noella Nibakuze
2019 fellow Noella Nibakuze has completed leading a two-month project that mentored 10 young Rwandan women artists in sustainable architecture. Noella is a design associate at MASS Design Group, a U.S.-based architecture firm that leads purpose-driven projects, focuses on using sustainable materials and promotes local economies.
MASS recently partnered with the Soul of Nations Foundation, an organization that uplifts indigenous people through their programming centered on art, research and scholarship. The project also included the U.S. Embassy Rwanda, as well as the Institute of National Museums. Noella was appointed by MASS to lead the effort, titled “Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project,” helping mentor the 10 Rwandan women artists through job shadowing, workshops and more. The completion of the project was celebrated at a virtual event, where U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda Peter Vrooman thanked Noella for her mentorship.
Report Date...: 1/4/21
Fellows host second annual TechWomen Nigeria Conference
Fellow(s): Hannah Kabir, Busayo Durojaiye, Joy Agene, Ogechi Onuoha, Ogo Maduewesi, Azizat Gbadegesin, Oluremi Hamid, Carolyn Seaman, Hannatu Onogu
Cohort: 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
Last week, TechWomen fellows from multiple cohorts came together to host the second annual TechWomen Nigeria Conference, convening women in technology throughout Nigeria for a one-day virtual event. Fellows Hannah Kabir (2013), Busayo Durojaiye (2014), Joy Agene (2014), Ogechi Onuoha (2014), Ogo Maduewesi (2014), Azizat Gbadegesin (2016), Oluremi Hamid (2016), Carolyn Seaman (2017) and Hannatu Onogu (2018) collaborated to deliver this year’s event themed on technology for economic and emotional well-being. TechWomen Director Katie Zee delivered opening remarks, highlighting the impact Nigerian fellows have created in their communities and beyond.
“We have selected this theme in sensitivity to the events of the year 2020, to be able to engage on key topics such as Artificial Intelligence, healthcare, automation, education and more,” said Busayo. The conference was co-sponsored by Global Tea Party, the event series founded by TechWomen mentor Dr. Jeannice Samani, who also delivered the opening keynote, “The Next Big Wave: Transformation of the Tech Economy.” Jeannice served as a Facilitator for the TechWomen 2020-2021 Professional Interest Groups, and invited Emerging Leader Flora Asibe to participate; Flora, an agricultural researcher, moderated a breakout room that discussed using technology for food security and wellness. After a series of opening talks, attendees were split into breakout sessions moderated by fellows and local tech leaders to discuss new tech trends, Artificial Intelligence and how to boost well-being in a remote work environment.
Report Date...: 12/21/20
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
Mentor(s): Reshma Singh
Company: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Mentor Type: Professional
This month, Professional Mentor Reshma Singh served as a “Dream Speaker,” speaking to students at Grovetown Middle School in Georgia about her career in architecture and renewable energy. Reshma’s talk was facilitated by DreamWakers, a Washington, DC-based non-profit that virtually connects classrooms to career role models.
Reshma, a program director at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, spoke about growing up in a remote region of India and how her father influenced her to make a difference in the world. She also explained her work in renewable energy, sharing with the students why mindful energy use is important for the health of the planet. After she was asked what skills students should develop, Reshma spoke about the importance of curiosity, reading from diverse sources and developing arithmetic skills to use data to tell their stories. “It was such a refreshing experience hearing from the bright young minds, and I left with such a feeling of wonderment and optimism after my time with them,” Reshma said.
Report Date...: 11/23/20
Fellow featured as a leader in architecture
Fellow(s): Charity Wanjiku
2017 fellow Charity Wanjiku was highlighted in the Daily Nation newspaper, featured as a woman who is “rocking the world of architecture” in Africa. In addition to founding energy solution company Strauss Energy, Charity is the co-founder, director and architect for Trioscape Space Planning Services. Through Trioscape, Charity designs residential and commercial buildings, including a 500 car capacity underground parking facility at Nairobi’s Holy Family Minor Basilica. She is also a member of the National Construction Authority, a committee that is evaluating alternative and sustainable building materials.
In the article, Charity speaks about her journey to becoming a successful architect and the people who inspired her along the way. Despite being told that architecture was a course for boys, she committed herself to becoming the first girl to enroll. “We need to encourage girls and let them know they can do it,” she says. “We also need to normalize women into taking up STEM-related courses.”
Report Date...: 10/5/20
Fellow recognized for achievements in engineering
Fellow(s): Joy Makumbe
2015 fellow Joy Makumbe was recently featured by Visibility STEM Africa, an initiative that amplifies the voices of STEM leaders and inspires young Africans to pursue careers in STEM fields. Joy, a water sanitation engineer, currently works for Egis Group. She recently completed a water sanitation project in Tanzania, leading a team in the construction of water pump stations, guard houses, electro-mechanical improvements and more.
In her feature, Joy spoke about her passion for creating community impact through bringing water and sanitation solutions to the African continent. Joy also gave advice to young Africans who are interested in STEM: “You can! Be tough. Don’t give up. Don’t look back. Remember, there is always someone to hold your hand along the journey,” she said.
Report Date...: 9/28/20
Fellows come together in online conference to inspire girls
Fellow(s): Gisele Beatrice Sonfack, Oluremi Hamid, Saida Yusupova, Lamia Fikrat
Country: Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, Uzbekistan
Cohort: 2016, 2019
2016 fellow of Cameroon Gisele Beatrice Sonfack recently gathered TechWomen fellows from Morocco, Nigeria and Uzbekistan to share their stories as women in engineering and speak about ways to inspire the next generation of girls. Gisele is the founder of Women in Engineering and Technology (WENTECH), an association that organizes workshops and conferences with a mission to inspire girls interested in STEM fields.
The online conference featured Gisele as well as 2016 fellow of Nigeria and CEO of Hydren Energy Oluremi Hamid, 2016 fellow of Uzbekistan and CEO of Green Business Innovation Saida Yusupova and 2019 fellow of Morocco Lamia Fikrat, a renewable energy and environment consultant. The audience, mostly comprised of young students and their parents, learned about the gender gap in STEM fields and why women have been historically underrepresented. Each fellow described their pathway to success, sharing how they remained motivated despite being outnumbered by men in their fields. They also answered questions from the students, encouraging them to pursue their interests and passions. Despite the cancelation of WENTECH’s scheduled in-person conferences, Gisele hopes to organize and record bi-monthly virtual conferences, making them available for a wider audience of girls.
Report Date...: 9/7/20
Fellow launches agro-waste initiative to empower rural women
Fellow(s): Linah Anyango
In rural Kenya, women walk long distances to collect firewood for cooking in their homes. 2019 fellow Linah Anyango wanted to create a solution that would not only provide cleaner, cheaper and more renewable energy sources, but also bring income to the women and their communities. Her newly launched CBO, Kanyadhiang’ Briquettes Nyale – which translates to “Briquettes are our solution” – aims to use readily available agricultural waste to provide sustainable fuel for women in rural Kenya.
Inspiration for the project began with the Girls in STEM Club that Linah founded at her school. Together, Linah and her students create clean energy solutions from waste products, including using charcoal dust to make briquettes. “I extended this project to women in rural parts of Kenya, since women are the most affected when it comes to access to clean and renewable energy,” she says.
This month, Linah hosted a one-week training where she guided groups of women in making briquettes from agricultural waste. The training focused on making briquettes from water hyacinth, an invasive plant species that threatens water sources and creates health risks. Moving forward, Linah will use her network to help the women sell their briquettes. “Ensuring that women and girls have energy access is not just about women’s rights – it’s a fundamental human rights issue,” she says.
Report Date...: 8/31/20
Fellows collaborate for webinar on solar energy
Fellow(s): Aia Abul-Haj and Amaal Al-Khatabeh
2018 fellows Aia Abul-Haj and Amaal Al-Khatabeh were recently featured in a live webinar event, sharing their perspective on solar power and the future of energy. The webinar was hosted by Phi Science Institute, a Jordan-based non-profit that brings science education to youth in Jordan and the Arab world.
In “Outside the Barrel: Solar Energy, Opportunities and Challenges,” Aia, the co-founder of renewable energy company SOLVillion Co, and Amaal, a renewable energy engineer, discussed the latest solar technologies and entrepreneurship within the solar field. The attendees, comprised of new graduates and researchers, had the opportunity to ask Aia and Amaal about their career choices as well as solicit advice on breaking into the energy fields. The fellows also spoke about solar energy during the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing how Jordan and other parts of the world have responded to an increase in solar consumption.
Report Date...: 8/31/20