Impact Stories from Youth Engagement Policy Area
a hands-on learning kit
Fellow(s): Aseel Honein
2013 fellow Aseel Honein has launched Architecture in a Box, a new company that provides hands-on kits teaching the principles of architecture, building and environmental sustainability to youth ages eight to 17. Aseel, an architect and university instructor, wanted to increase the visibility of the architecture field and inspire women and girls to pursue careers in a historically male-dominated space.
In Lebanon, most students are not introduced to architecture, urban planning or interior design at school, and many women trained in architecture are not actively employed as architects. “Due to many challenges, there are no opportunities for all graduates, engineers, and architects in Lebanon,” says Aseel. “Therefore, proper career orientation and design thinking tools and resources are required to create new opportunities.” Each kit provides interactive activities that teach youth about sustainable building, creative problem solving and critical thinking; Architecture in a Box will also offer complimentary workshops to schools that use the kits in their classrooms. Last year, Aseel had an opportunity to pilot her prototype boxes with 100 girls at an event run by Girls Got IT, an initiative co-founded by two Lebanese TechWomen fellows that exposes girls ages 15-17 to STEM through interactive workshops. As the company grows, Aseel hopes to create more kits that will spark creativity, create environmental awareness and help inspire youth – especially girls – to pursue a career in architecture.
Report Date...: 10/12/20
Fellows hold alumnae Q&A to inspire girls in STEM
Fellow(s): Alice Tyan, Elena Chigibaeva, Mira Abdimetalieva, Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova, Aigerim Beishenbekova
Cohort: 2017, 2018, 2019
This week, TechWomen fellows collaborated to hold a virtual session themed on encouraging women and girls to pursue STEM fields. 2017 fellow Alice Tyan, 2018 fellows Elena Chigibaeva and Mira Abdimetalieva, and 2019 fellows Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova and Aigerim Beishenbekova organized the webinar in partnership with the High Technology Park of the Kyrgyz Republic as part of its ongoing series that promotes IT fields.
During the session, “Why Should Girls Consider an IT Career,” the fellows shared advice on how to succeed in tech and spoke about how to develop skills that can lead to a career in STEM. They explored the diverse careers within IT that go beyond programming: data analytics, project management, product management, Scrum, quality assurance and more. Elena also presented on the TechWomen program, speaking about the opportunities it provides to international women in STEM.
Although women’s representation in tech is growing in Kyrgyzstan, the fellows spoke about the need for gender equality, and encouraged the girls to claim their space within STEM. At the conclusion of the webinar, each fellow gave advice on why girls should consider an IT career: “It doesn’t matter what gender you are if you do your job well,” said Aigerim.
Report Date...: 10/5/20
Fellow launches virtual program for young leaders
Fellow(s): Omnia Eteyari
This week, 2013 fellow Omnia Eteyari debuted Oratoriia, an online program that educates and empowers young leaders. Omnia is the founder of Jordan-based BulbulHub Academy of Public Speaking, an academy that provides public speaking, leadership and personal development courses to youth ages 11-17.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Omnia to suspend BulbbulHub’s in-person activities, she wanted to continue providing value to the community and its young leaders. With all-virtual programming, Oratoriia allows young leaders to access courses in leadership, public speaking, effective communication and more. Omnia has also started an Oratoriia YouTube channel, where she will provide content for its students. Her first video shares strategies for how leaders can solve common workplace challenges.
Report Date...: 10/5/20
TechWomen/TechGirls Club hold second summit
Fellow(s): TechWomen/TechGirls Club in Uzbekistan
This week, Uzbekistan’s TechWomen/TechGirls Club hosted their second summit, bringing together alumnae of both programs to network, discuss their community projects and brainstorm ways to enhance mentorship and support in a virtual setting. Launched in 2018, the cross-program clubs provide a space for career counseling, mentoring, leadership development and more. The club’s first summit, held in January of this year, established their foundational goals, provided opportunities for mentorship and laid the groundwork for future projects and collaboration.
This week’s summit brought together 22 participants, including TechWomen alumnae from multiple cohorts, TechGirls alumnae and incoming TechWomen 2020-2021 Emerging Leaders. After a welcome from the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, the club’s participants introduced themselves to one another, speaking about their careers and their participation in the TechWomen and TechGirls programs. Despite challenges that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic, the group discussed creating future online workshops and masterclasses themed on soft skills, pitching, design thinking and more. The club also discussed future impact projects, including a virtual STEM school for girls as well as an awareness campaign that educates youth on environmental issues. The club hopes to hold its third summit this spring.
Report Date...: 9/28/20
Fellow named Schwab Foundation Social Innovator of the Year
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa
2017 fellow Lindiwe Matlali is an awardee of the 2020 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur award, recognized as an outstanding leader who is pioneering innovative solutions for social challenges in her community. Lindiwe is the founder of Africa Teen Geeks, the largest computer science NGO in Africa that is dedicated to teaching and training underserved students. To date, Africa Teen Geeks has trained over 48,000 children in IT skills.
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, a sister organization of the World Economic Forum, supports global social entrepreneurs who are creating a more equitable world. Lindiwe was honored alongside 12 international changemakers who are driving change in education, government, healthcare and more. Recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lindiwe and Africa Teen Geeks launched STEM Digital School, an online school that brings free classes to students throughout the African continent. The school partnered with South Africa’s Department of Basic Education, working to expand their comprehensive and interactive curriculum in order to reach a wider audience both online and on community television.
Report Date...: 9/21/20
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 wins Volkswagen Lioness Den competition
Fellow(s): Bathabile Mpofu
Country: South Africa
This month, 2018 fellow Bathabile Mpofu was named the third prize winner of the Volkswagen Lioness Den competition, a pitch competition for women entrepreneurs leading innovative businesses on the African continent. The initiative is held in partnership with Lionesses of Africa, a social enterprise that supports and advances Africa’s women entrepreneurs.
Bathabile is the co-founder and managing director of Nkazimulo Applied Sciences, an initiative that encourages young children to discover a love of science through ChemStart, a series of portable, customizable science kits for various age groups. As third prize winner, Bathabile will use the funding to bring an educator onto her team who will record online science lessons. The lessons will be for sale on Nkazimulo’s website, but Bathabile plans to provide them to underserved schools free of charge.
Report Date...: 9/7/20
Fellow pilots STEM program for girls
Fellow(s): Gunesh Bakgalova
After TechWomen, 2019 fellow Gunesh Bakgalova returned to Turkmenistan determined to pay it forward to girls in her community. “I set a target for myself to help at least three girls to help them pursue some STEM career,” she says. After finding sponsorship through her own company as well as other local organizations, Gunesh created a pilot program for teenage girls who are motivated by STEM but lack the resources to pursue their educational interests.
Gunesh partnered with the director of a local education center that offers IT education, working together to find girls from marginalized communities who were interested in mathematics and coding courses. Although the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted selection and planning, Gunesh was able to select a high school girl who was then provided a comprehensive beginners coding course. “Her performance is really good,” says Gunesh. “I am going to help her with continuation of her education in the IT field.” Gunesh hopes to continue the program in order to connect more girls to educational resources and encourage them to pursue STEM fields.
Report Date...: 8/31/20
Fellows nominated as Microsoft Community Ambassadors
Fellow(s): Ouafa Benterki and Fatima Zohra Benhamida
Cohort: 2012, 2017
Fellows of Algeria Ouafa Benterki (2012) and Fatima Zohra Benhamida (2017) were recently selected as community ambassadors for the Microsoft Humans of IT initiative. Community ambassadors work together to share tech for good expertise, create positive social impact and mentor Microsoft student ambassadors who are developing career paths in STEM. This year’s Humans of IT initiative is in partnership with five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), where community ambassadors will collaborate alongside the institutions’ computer science faculties to create opportunities for student ambassadors to do tech for good projects alongside IT professionals.
Ouafa, founder of the first Algerian women-led startup specializing in artificial intelligence, was appointed as a Microsoft regional director last year, becoming the first Algerian and first African woman to hold the role. Fatima, an assistant professor of computer science and board member of the TechWomen/TechGirls Club Algeria, was also recently awarded by Microsoft as a Most Valuable Professional (MVP). The MVP award is attributed to experts in recognition of their exceptional leadership and as appreciation for their outstanding volunteering contributions in technical communities. “When I started volunteering, all I wanted was to help youth within my community to thrive and have practical insights about STEM”, Fatima says. “My motivation and eagerness to give back to the community is stronger and I’ll make sure the more I learn, the more I will share.”
Report Date...: 8/3/20
Fellow completes Obama Foundation African Leaders program
Fellow(s): Refilwe Ledwaba
Country: South Africa
Recently, 2019 fellow of South Africa Refilwe Ledwaba completed the Obama Foundation African Leaders program. The program seeks to build a growing network of innovative and ethical changemakers who will drive positive change in their communities and beyond. During the year-long program, 200 emerging African leaders attend seminars focused on values-based leadership development, skill-building for social change, hands-on service learning and technical trainings.
Refilwe, South Africa’s first black female helicopter pilot, is the founder of the Girl Fly Programme in Africa (GFPA) Foundation, a non-profit organization empowering young women to go into STEM. Through the GFPA Foundation, she is addressing the challenges she faced when she entered the aviation industry by creating more access to opportunities for women, having learned ways to multiply her impact through the programs she has participated in. Refilwe says her biggest lesson learned from getting to know emerging leaders from all over the world through the TechWomen and Obama Foundation Leaders programs is to “continually challenge yourself and get out of that comfort zone.”
Report Date...: 8/3/2020