Impact Stories from Environmental Sustainability Policy Area
Fellows serve as TechGirls Pitch and Project Mentors
Fellow(s): CSA and MENA fellows
Recently, a TechWomen-TechGirls Summit was held where over 100 TechGirls participants from 12 countries presented their pitches on community-based project initiatives to address issues with the environment, education systems, the gender gap, technology disparities, mental health and more. Select TechWomen fellows served as mentors to TechGirls participants, assisting them from the beginning of the process with solution ideation all the way to this pitch summit. Despite their young age, both the fellows and session facilitators were impressed by the TechGirls participants’ commitment to achieve their project despite the constraints due to the ongoing pandemic. They noted the girls’ outstanding professionalism that allowed for feedback on each project to be shared effectively and for concrete next steps to be planned all while making meaningful connections with one another. “This TechWomen-TechGirls Summit is the perfect moment to understand the impact of bringing women and girls from different countries, sectors and backgrounds,” said Salma Gherraby, 2019 fellow and project mentor for TechGirls Morocco. “While discussing issues around the world, they all show the importance of STEM to resolve those problems.”
Report Date...: 8/16/21
Fellow named Anitab.org Abie Award winner
Fellow(s): Ainura Sagyn
This week 2017 fellow Ainura Sagyn was named an Anitab.org Abie Award winner, recognized for her career success, her commitment to her community and her dedication to improving the world. Ainura is the co-founder and CEO of Tazar, a mobile app that seeks to reduce waste in landfills by connecting waste producers with recyclers. She is currently studying for her master’s in computer vision and image processing at the Autonomous University of Madrid. Ainura was named the Student of Vision Award winner for using technology to solve leading issues and working to inspire more women to enter technology fields. In addition to receiving a cash prize, Ainura will be speaking at the Virtual Grace Hopper Celebration later this year, presenting on when ideas meet action. “Every idea and opportunity I’ve had I turned to action, from mentoring girls to organizing a coding training for schoolgirls in all regions of Kyrgyzstan, or helping the planet by using Tazar to reduce the pervasive problem of litter and waste in Kyrgyzstan,” she said.Read More »
Report Date...: 8/9/21
Fellow named sustainability ambassador by Egypt government
Fellow(s): Ghada Amin
2018 fellow Ghada Amin was named an ambassador of sustainable development by Egypt’s Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, an initiative that seeks to build capacity around environmental sustainability through training and partnerships with universities, NGO’s and the private sector. Ghada is part of a small group of ambassadors chosen out of over 7,000 candidates. Ghada, a researcher and engineer in the field of sustainable development, will soon enter certification training in order to learn more about sustainable development, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Egypt’s sustainability priorities. After, Ghada will begin working with schools and youth for training on the UN SDGs, educating them in order to help create a culture of sustainability. Previously, Ghada attended the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly in New York, sharing best practices on advancing women and girls in science.Read More »
Report Date...: 8/9/21
Alumnae work together for new sustainability initiative
Fellow(s): Elena Selezneva, Saida Yusupova, Erin Keeley, Gisele Beatrice Sonfack
Country: Cameroon, United States, Uzbekistan
2016 fellows of Uzbekistan Elena Selezneva and Saida Yusupova collaborated with 2016 fellow of Cameroon Gisele Beatrice Sonfack and mentor Erin Keeley to deliver workshops on mentorship and best practices for mentoring women in technology. The workshops were organized by Tech4Impact, the initiative Elena and Saida founded that nurtures IT, innovation, green tech and women’s entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan and Central Asia. They recently launched their latest project, Accelerating Women’s Climate Change Tech Startups in Uzbekistan, with funding from the United Nations Democracy Fund. The two-year project will train and support women in the Karakalpakstan region of Uzbekistan, helping them establish businesses and initiatives that address the social and economic effects of climate change. The program includes a six-month accelerator program that will establish a culture of mentorship in the region and connect women-led startups to investors.
Elena and Saida recruited Erin and Gisele to deliver workshops for Tech4Impact’s trainers, sharing best practices in mentorship and how mentors can support and guide mentees. Erin, the global director of engineering at Hitachi GST, also spoke about the green tech ecosystem in Silicon Valley, sharing various initiatives that aim to combat the climate crisis. Gisele, a current Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future fellow, spoke about setting SMART Goals, mentoring techniques and the importance of mentoring women in STEM fields. “We are very thankful to TechWomen community for connecting us all and supporting us for all these years,” said Elena.
Report Date...: 8/2/21
Fellow launches SheTechs to empower girls with STEM skills
Fellow(s): Chioma Ezedi-Chukwu
2016 fellow Chioma Ezedi-Chukwu recently launched SheTechs, a training program that educates girls ages 13-22 in web development, electronics and robotics skills. The program, launched in May 2021, is a part of Learn By Building, a foundation established by Chioma that implements her community-based programs. In addition to leading SheTechs, Chioma is the co-founder of STEMTeers, an initiative that engages secondary school students in STEM learning; STEMTeers has launched STEM clubs in 21 schools and has engaged over 500 students through its programming. Chioma was also named a Next Einstein Forum Ambassador, and will serve in the role through 2021.
The 15 girls in SheTech’s inaugural training, led by trainers funded by the Development Exchange Centre, began with a primer on computer basics, learning about the components of a computer as well as how to use Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and more. Shortly after, the group moved on to web development, studying HTML and experimenting with HTML code. “The participants had their first project practice on the topic, and created their first sign up page. It was an exciting moment for everyone because they all performed well,” says the SheTechs blog. This week, SheTechs began their second cohort, engaging a new group of girls in STEM skills. Chioma hopes to expand the program’s reach, and is seeking additional computers to include more girls.
Report Date...: 7/19/21
Fellow authors article on telecommunications in rural areas
Fellow(s): Nomso Kana
Country: South Africa
2013 fellow Nomso Kana authored an article for Bytes.za, an online report from
South Africa’s Department of Communications and Digital Technologies. Nomso is
a broadband infrastructure entrepreneur as well as a nuclear scientist who
currently serves as the governor of the Nuclear Energy Foundation Agency.
Her article, Mobile Broadband for Rural Connectivity, outlines key factors that
hinder connectivity and communication in rural communities of South Africa, and
proposes solutions that will increase connectivity and minimize infrastructure
challenges. “Internet access is vital in these economic times,” writes Nomso. “In
these challenging times of the contactless COVID-19 pandemic, connectivity is
more needed than before, as it can support distance education, healthcare, and
the economy.” Nomso proposes cost-effective solutions to the challenges faced
in rural areas, such as a combination of solar powered and on-grid power as well
as anti-theft mechanisms for telecom equipment. “It has been proven that mobile internet connectivity is an
economic multiplier that can transform rural communities,” she writes.
Report Date...: 7/12/21
With AU grant fellow begins research on sugarcane in Kenya
Fellow(s): Edith Mugehu
2018 fellow Edith Mugehu was named a recipient of the 2021 Intra-Africa Academic Mobility Scheme, an African Union program that supports higher education cooperation between countries in Africa by providing financial support to educational institutions and supporting its students.
Edith is a PhD candidate in plant breeding and biotechnology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, as well as a research associate at the Zimbabwe Sugar Association Experiment Station. Recently, she began her six-month research stay at Kenyatta University in Kenya, where she is conducting ground-breaking research that will contribute to food security and poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is working on identifying beneficial genes in Zimbabwean sugarcane germplasm, as well as developing a tissue culture protocol that will be adopted by the Zimbabwe sugar industry in order to help farmers reduce costs associated with the propagation of sugarcane seed. Since TechWomen, Edith has been awarded all five grant or scholarship programs she has applied for. “I bloomed after and because of TechWomen,” she said. “I got a confidence boost. I can address any audience without fearing that I’m not good enough. I can now set bigger research goals because I realize how extraordinary I am. Because of TechWomen, I always want to make other young women and girls feel the same way and look at life with the same ambition and hope.”
Report Date...: 7/5/21
Fellows featured for International Women in Engineering Day
Fellow(s): Shakira Nyiratuza and Zani Gichuki
2019 fellows Shakira Nyiratuza and Zani Gichuki were featured in a video from MASS Design Group in celebration of International Women in Engineering Day, observed annually on June 23. Shakira and Zani both work as structural engineers at MASS, a U.S.-based architecture firm that leads purpose-driven projects, focuses on using sustainable materials and promotes local economies. In the video feature, Zani speaks about the importance of inclusivity in their field: “We need way more women in engineering in general,” she says. “We can’t expect people to build things the way we want them to be built if we don’t have a say in it.” Shakira shares that although the path to engineering is difficult, it is worth it: “Being an engineer is not an easy journey. However, it requires you to be focused, determined and never give up,” she says.Read More »
Report Date...: 6/28/21
Fellow wins first place at Ideathon for social impact
Fellow(s): Menna Ayad
This week, 2019 fellow Menna Ayad was named first place winner at Fekretek, a competition and platform for Egyptian women with business ideas that create impact and address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Launched this year, the competition is sponsored by Vodafone Egypt in partnership with the National Council for Women, UN Women and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
Menna, a network consulting engineer at Cisco, created Fosha, a mobile app that allows its users – both Egyptians and tourists – to discover Egypt in just a few clicks by accessing local tours, trips and activities. “Egypt relies heavily on tourism, and it got affected by the pandemic,” said Menna. “It is a critical time to introduce Fosha.” After Menna’s TechWomen mentorship at Twitter, she was inspired to find a way to use her background in computer science and app development. “At university, I fell in love with how a mobile app can reach millions of people and make their lives easier. During my mentorship at Twitter, I relived that passion again. It triggered my goal of creating a mobile app that can ease someone’s life.” Through Fosha, Menna hopes to digitally transform the tourism sector in Egypt and create a digital channel for service providers to market their offerings. As first place winner, she received a cash prize to kickstart her app, as well as access to entrepreneurship, marketing and finance training from the National Council for Women and UN Women.
Report Date...: 4/19/21
Fellow selected for Africa Innovation Fellowship
Fellow(s): Sirri Nelly Forbi
Recently, 2019 fellow Sirri Nelly Forbi was selected for the Africa Innovation Fellowship Accelerated Development Programme, a business and personal development program for female founders and co-founders. Sirri Nelly is one of eight women selected from a pool of candidates from across the African continent.
The nine-month accelerator is hosted by WomEng and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and includes comprehensive leadership development, networking, pitch training and continued mentorship. In addition to working as a researcher for Cameroon’s Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation, Sirri Nelly is the co-founder of Green Growth Initiatives Solutions and Technologies (GGIST), a platform for professionals who are addressing Cameroon’s environmental challenges. Through her work, Sirri Nelly hopes to bring cost-effective clean energy solutions to communities throughout Cameroon.
Report Date...: 3/29/21