Impact Stories from Youth Engagement Policy Area
Fellow mentors Technovation team on COVID-19 mobile app
Fellow(s): Layal Zakhour
Recently, 2015 fellow Layal Zakhour helped lead the Technovation initiative in the United Arab Emirates, serving as club leader for nine teams of girls. Layal currently lives in the UAE, working for GE as a staff software architect.
Although many teams made the decision to postpone their mobile apps until next year due to COVID-19 difficulties, three teams were able to submit their projects. Layal mentored a team of 13 and 14 year old girls, teaching them the Technovation curriculum over weekly online sessions. Together, her team identified leading issues in their community and ultimately created RECOVER-19, a mobile application that connects patients in quarantine with doctors. The app allows patients to send out daily health check reports and communicate with their doctors online, aiming to reduce unnecessary hospital visits and prioritize critical cases. “Any woman can make an impact in her community. I am happy to help young girls become problem solvers in a time of crisis,” said Layal.
Report Date...: 6/1/20
Fellow awarded Schlumberger Faculty for the Future Fellowship.
Fellow(s): Mercy Sosanya
2015 fellow Mercy Sosanya was recently named a recipient of the 2020-2021 Schlumberger Faculty for the Future Fellowship, a program that supports women from developing countries to pursue advanced graduate degrees in STEM fields at leading universities abroad.
Mercy is a nutritionist, PhD student and teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work focuses on improving the nutritional status of women, children and other vulnerable populations. Recently, she has been developing and evaluating a digital behavior change tool for teenage mothers in northern Nigeria that aims to both improve feeding practices as well as the nutrition status of the mothers and their young children.
The fellowship award will provide Mercy financial support for her research and allow her to continue leveraging technology to create solutions for young mothers and their children in Nigeria.
Report Date...: 5/25/20
Daily Nation recognizes fellow for leadership in education
Fellow(s): Linah Anyango
This week, 2019 fellow Linah Anyango was featured in a Daily Nation story that highlighted her efforts to educate Kenya’s students during the coronavirus pandemic. Linah is a teacher and the head of the science department at a secondary school in Mombasa, and also trains educators on bringing digital literacy and STEM mentorship for girls to their classrooms.
Over the last few months, Linah has mobilized over 65 teachers to support students whose education was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. The educators – teachers in biology, chemistry, math and physics from multiple countries – have been working together to prepare engaging STEM lessons that they deliver during daily Zoom classes. Linah releases each week’s curriculum in advance, sharing links for students who want to participate in the Monday to Saturday lessons. Each class, open to as many as 300 students, has 15 teachers present who assign lessons and grade students’ work. So far, the initiative has reached over 1,200 students. Linah, who recently delivered a webinar for teachers on addressing education inequalities, says that COVID-19 has further exposed unequal access to learning opportunities. Her weekly lessons, however, have been able to reach students in remote and rural areas: those who don’t have personal devices have implemented social distancing meet-ups in churches and local community spaces, learning together on a projector.
Report Date...: 5/18/20
Fellow lists seven tips for girls interested in STEM
Fellow(s): Ghada Amin
This month, 2018 fellow Ghada Amin created a YouTube video to share tips, advice and inspiration for TechGirls participants. In “7 tips to select your STEM field,” Ghada, an environmental engineer, lists her best practices for finding a career, seeking mentorship and succeeding in STEM.
In her first tip, Ghada tells girls to begin with their passion – something they currently love to study – and turn it into a career. “You may get tired, but you won’t get bored,” she says. Ghada also urges girls to be adaptive, explaining that by creating more than one plan for their future, they are ensuring their success no matter what. Ghada also speaks about the importance of persistence, as many girls face gender discrimination within STEM fields. Finding a mentor, Ghada says, will help them overcome challenges. Ghada’s final tip is to believe in yourself and always choose what is right over what is easy. “You can be the first in a male-dominated field,” she says. “Don’t let being outnumbered make you change your mind. And congratulations in advance – you will be a pioneer.”
Report Date...: 5/18/20
Forced to close centers fellow makes online learning free for all
Fellow(s): Rana El Chemaitelly
2017 fellow Rana El Chemaitelly is the founder of The Little Engineer, an initiative that educates students of all ages in robotics, coding, AI, 3D modeling and more at their five centers throughout Lebanon. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Rana made the early decision to close all her centers – home to high-touch surfaces for interactive STEM activities – in order to ensure the safety of the kids that participate in The Little Engineer’s 45 programs.
Rana, however, didn’t want to take learning opportunities away from students, especially as they faced increased difficulty learning at home. “I wanted to keep supporting kids and come out stronger,” she said. As a result, Rana made The Little Engineer online activities free to all students around the world, beginning with 3D modeling lessons in building and designing objects like boats, airplanes and houses. Rana knew that not all students would have the bandwidth to run her regular programs: “We had to be very fast-moving to enable everyone to be engaged online,” she says. Her solution was to use Tinkercad by Autodesk, a free app for 3D design and electronics. Word of the online programs spread, and The Little Engineer platform is now used by teachers and students in Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa and the U.S. “Teachers are focused on getting it right so they continue to provide a great educational experience for their students,” says Rana. “If we give opportunities to students, they can excel.”
Report Date...: 5/11/20
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
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
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