Impact Stories from Youth Engagement Policy Area
Fellow speaks at international conference in Japan
Fellow(s): Patu Ndango Fen
Last month, 2017 fellow Patu Ndango Fen was a featured panelist at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. The conference is initiative of the Japanese government and held in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, World Bank and the African Union Commission.
Patu is the founder of Closed Loop System Ventures, a waste management social enterprise, as well as the president of its foundation. In one panel, “Human Capital Development for Youth Entrepreneurship,” Patu spoke about innovative education approaches that empower and engage youth. “Africa has a young population and is experiencing a rapid growth rate,” she said. “Young people should be encouraged to venture into entrepreneurship in order to create jobs and contribute to resolving pressing social, environmental and economic challenges.”
Report Date...: 9/2/19
IIE collaborates with fellows’ initiatives for 2019 program
Fellow(s): Sabine El Kahi, Aiturgan Zulpukarova, Mide Ayeni
Country: Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Nigeria
Cohort: 2014, 2017
This year, IIE collaborated with three fellows to bring items from their initiatives to this year’s TechWomen company partners and speakers. Each product – wooden pens, fabric notebooks and wool business card holders – was handcrafted by participants in each fellow’s community-based initiative.
2014 fellow of Lebanon Sabine El Kahi supplied wooden pens from Kids Genius, her STEM-based initiative that spreads maker culture to young students. “The pens were made by our team with the help of three students with learning difficulties,” says Sabine. “Making the pens allowed them to learn, develop new skills and improve their confidence in their abilities.”
2017 fellow of Kyrgyzstan Aiturgan Zulpukarova is the founder of Kuragami, an initiative that works with women artisans in the Issyk-Kul region of Kyrgyzstan to make sustainable and ethically sourced products. Aiturgan supplied business card holders made of merino wool and naturally hand-dyed with walnut leaves. 2017 fellow of Nigeria Mide Ayeni supplied notebooks made from recycled paper and upcycled African ankara fabric made by women in Nigeria. Mide is the founder of Pearl Recycling, an initiative that collects waste such as plastic, car tires, newspapers and other recyclables and trains youth and women to transform them into furniture and upcycled items. All items will serve as gestures of appreciation for the companies and speakers that contribute to the 2019 program.
Report Date...: 8/26/19
Fellow named Next Einstein Forum Fellow
Fellow(s): Fanelwa Ajayi
Country: South Africa
This month, it was announced that 2017 fellow Fanelwa Ajayi is one of 25 scientists named a Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Fellow for their 2019-2021 class.
Through its programs, NEF seeks to connect science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world. NEF Ambassadors are young science and technology champions who are selected to lead public engagement activities and partner with established mentors and researchers to advance their own careers in STEM. Fellows are selected by an international committee of scientists, and are required to demonstrate how their work is contributing to solving Africa’s leading challenges.
Fanelwa is a research leader and senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape, as well as the founder of AmaQawe ngeMfundo, an initiative that brings hands-on STEM learning and experiments to local schools.
Report Date...: 8/26/19
2018 seed grant winners implement community initiatives
Fellow(s): 2018 Seed grant-winning teams
Country: Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zimbabwe
TechWomen 2018 seed grant-winning teams from Rwanda, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan and Nigeria have begun implementation of their impact projects that address leading challenges in their communities. Each team has written a guest post on the TechWomen blog that highlights their mission, progress and future goals.
Since TechWomen 2018, Rwandan team Healing Together has collaborated with community partners to train counselors on supporting women survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi. In Lebanon, My ioLab is educating and empowering youth to scale up their IoT knowledge while addressing real-world issues. At hands-on workshops in Lebanon, Berlin, Singapore and Uzbekistan, the fellows have taught youth to address environmental issues in their community through innovative technology.
Through their initiative Vheneka/Khanyisa, fellows of Zimbabwe have traveled to schools, rural farming communities and prisons to train 525 women and girls on making reusable sanitary pads using sustainable materials. In Kazakhstan, the interactive website Uki.kz provides a safe space for domestic violence victims to gather resources and connect to professionals. Team Nigeria’s initiative, MAAMI, is addressing the maternal mortality rate by providing mobile education that connects women to safe and reliable healthcare. The fellows have a goal of onboarding 500 women, and have already registered 300 women to receive mobile health updates.
Report Date...: 8/12/19
Fellow travels to U.S. for workshop with UNICEF
Fellow(s): Kumba Musa
Country: Sierra Leone
Recently, 2015 fellow Kumba Musa traveled to New York to represent the government of Sierra Leone at the UNICEF Artificial Intelligence and Children’s Rights workshop at their company headquarters. Kumba is a data scientist at the Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation, an initiative of the Sierra Leonean government that uses science and tech to deliver on the country’s national development plan.
During the workshop, Kumba particpated in a panel that explored the role of governments and organizations in AI policy and strategy, discussing how new technologies can be applied to promote children’s rights internationally. Together, participants explored resources and tools that can help move from policy to practice in ensuring the protection of children’s rights. “AI technologies are increasingly embedded in children’s toys, tools and classrooms, creating a sophisticated new approach to education and child development,” says Kumba. “As a result, policymakers should collaborate closely with technical researchers to investigate, prevent and mitigate potential malicious uses of AI.”
In addition to her work with DSTI, Kumba is the founder and executive director of STEM Women SL, an initiative that works to increase the representation of women in STEM fields throughout Sierra Leone.
Report Date...: 8/5/19
Mentor(s): Anar Simpson
Mentor Type: Impact
This week, TechWomen Impact Coach and strategic partnership advisor Anar Simpson was featured in MentorTalks, a new series from International Exchange Alumni. With the aim of connecting exchange program alumni with experts in their fields, MentorTalks features live interactive conversations and Q&A’s with viewers around the world.
In the Facebook Live event, Anar spoke about empowering women in tech as a TechWomen mentor, Technovation regional ambassador and member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. She encouraged women and girls to expand their knowledge of the tech landscape, emphasizing the importance of networking in finding new passions and new career opportunities. When a young viewer asked about entering STEM fields, Anar spoke about how programs like TechWomen and Technovation empower women and girls to create impact in their home countries. “It’s not always easy, but it’s getting better,” said Anar. “It’s young people like you that have solutions that can change the world of tomorrow.”
Report Date...: 8/5/19
Fellow hosts coding bootcamp and hackathon for girls
Fellow(s): Carolyn Seaman
This month, 2017 fellow Carolyn Seaman hosted Tech Tackle, a coding boot camp and hackathon for 45 adolescent girls representing 10 public schools throughout Nigeria.
The inaugural program, held in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, began with a three-week intensive coding bootcamp hosted by Carolyn’s organization, Girls Voices. With hands-on training and one-on-one mentoring, the girls designed innovative tech solutions for critical social issues in their country. Through lessons on design thinking, coding and research, the teams addressed challenges such as human trafficking, crime prevention and corruption, with a particular focus on how these issues affect young girls in Nigeria.
The training culminated in a pitch competition, where the teams presented their solutions to a panel of judges. Their ideas included a website that addresses gender-based violence, an app with voice recognition that can sense distress and send help and camera technology that can work to deter child traffickers. The top five teams are currently participating in a five-week Python training, and select teams will travel to the U.S. to represent Nigeria at a global hackathon at Google in Silicon Valley.
Report Date...: 7/29/19
Fellow shares hiring expertise with local tech companies
Fellow(s): Sarah Abdallah
Recently, 2016 fellow Sarah Abdallah shared her expertise on tech hiring at an event organized by Lebanese IT Syndicate, a group that represents the Lebanese IT community and ICT sector. Sarah is the CEO of LIBRO, a company that addresses youth unemployment challenges in the MENA region by providing training, consulting and recruitment services for universities and companies in STEM fields.
At her talk, Sarah shared hiring tools companies can use to fulfill their open positions and reduce the unemployment rate of people with technical backgrounds. Part of the issue, Sarah explained, is that companies don’t always know how to draft proper job descriptions for their open positions. She showed how companies can be specific by listing particular programming languages and educational backgrounds necessary for the jobs they need to fulfill. Sarah also encouraged the group to form committees to support tech companies in drafting job descriptions: “This would both ease recruitment and retain talent,” she said.
Report Date...: 7/29/19
Fellows travel to South Africa as Obama Foundation leaders
Fellow(s): Mpara Faith, Grace Pirisai
Country: Cameroon, Zimbabwe
This week, two TechWomen fellows traveled to Johannesburg as 2019 Obama Foundation Leaders to represent their countries and brainstorm innovative solutions to socioeconomic issues. Mpara Faith, 2017 fellow of Cameroon and Grace Pisirai, 2017 fellow of Zimbabwe, were chosen as emerging leaders for Leaders: Africa, a program of the Obama Foundation that supports changemakers from the African continent through a one-year leadership development and civic engagement program.
Joining 200 fellow impact leaders from 45 countries, Mpara and Grace participated in skill-building workshops, leadership development training and service projects. Throughout the week, participants were challenged with finding creative approaches to problem-solving and establishing individual action plans that address leading issues in their communities.
Mpara is the founder of ICT4KIDS, a training program that educates and empowers children in Cameroon through hands-on STEM activities. Grace is co-founder of Purple Future Trust, a startup founded to educate underserved women and girls in science, engineering and mathematics through interactive technology. During the program year, Mpara and Grace will engage in online programming activities, including interactive webinars, discussions on ethical leadership and peer reviews for their action plans.
Report Date...: 7/15/19
TechWomen travel with TechGirls to the United States
Fellow(s): Keremet Djoldoshbekova, Mutriba Akhmedova, Sevara Siradjeva, Salma Bekkouche, Reem El-Mograby, Dhelal Shorman, Maya Itani, Safaa Boubia and Faten Hammouda
Country: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uzbekistan
Cohort: 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
TechWomen fellows from Central Asia and the MENA region accompanied TechGirls participants on their journey to the U.S. this week, officially kicking off TechGirls 2019. Fellows of Central Asia Dina Shaikhislam (Kazakhstan, 2017), Keremet Djoldoshbekova (Kyrgyzstan, 2015), Mutriba Akhmedova (Tajikistan, 2015) and Sevara Siradjeva (Uzbekistan, 2016) chaperoned the TechGirls from their respective countries, ensuring they arrived in Washington D.C. safely and ready for the exciting program ahead. The next day, MENA fellows Salma Bekkouche (Algeria, 2018), Reem El-Mograby (Egypt, 2011), Dhelal Shorman (Jordan, 2017), Maya Itani (Lebanon, 2017), Safaa Boubia (Morocco, 2018) and Faten Hammouda (Tunisia, 2015) arrived with TechGirls from MENA, joining the other alumnae and TechGirls participants in D.C.
During the week, TechWomen fellows participated in a panel at Trinity Washington University, sharing their experiences and inspiring the TechGirls to pursue STEM fields. “I told them that when I was a software engineering major, there were seven girls and 32 boys in the group,” said Mutriba. “All seven girls graduated, but there were just seven boys left from the 32! Girls are strong by nature. They can do everything they want.” Dhelal spoke about her career transition from biomedical engineering to working at a business incubator with women founders. “I told the girls to never be afraid of change – it’s the only constant in life,” she said.
This year, TechGirls expanded to Central Asia, inviting girls from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the program. Over the coming weeks, the TechGirls cohort will gain exposure to programming, mobile application development and hands-on instruction that aims to empower and inspire them to pursue STEM fields. At the end of this month, seven additional TechWomen fellows from throughout Central Asia and MENA will travel to D.C. to return home with the TechGirls cohort. Before their departure from the U.S., the fellows will have the opportunity to hear the TechGirls’ project plans and attend a concluding capstone event.
Report Date...: 7/8/19