Impact Stories from Youth Engagement Policy Area
Fellow’s project AfChix expands reach with USAID funding
Fellow(s): Houda Chakiri
2012 fellow Houda Chakiri is a board member and project coordinator for AfChix, an initiative that addresses the digital gender divide through digital skills trainings, supporting women-led enterprises and advocating for digital inclusion. The initiative – already named a round one winner in 2018 – was recently named a round three winner of the Women Connect Challenge, a USAID-funded challenge that solicits global solutions that transform the ways women access and use technology.
Round three of the challenge, which focused on scale, replicability and private sector partnerships supporting emerging technologies, awarded four initiatives that are advancing women’s digital development. The AfChix project, “Scaling up Women-Led Community Networks for Women’s Prosperity,” will work with community networks in Kenya, Morocco, Namibia and Senegal to harness the power of digital technologies, partnerships and collaborations for the prosperity of women. “We will empower underserved women communities to use technology to improve their livelihoods and small businesses,” said Houda, who will work as Morocco’s project coordinator to identify and customize digital skills and literacy training programs for women. The digital training will be delivered via MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) in order to reach the most women in Africa, and will focus on using smartphones, digital marketing, working with online customers and more. “We hope to reach one million women aged 18 and above to strengthen their participation in the digital society,” says Houda.
Report Date...: 4/26/21
Fellow(s): Gisele Beatrice Sonfack
2016 fellow Gisele Beatrice Sonfack was recently named a recipient of the 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. Gisele is a researcher, assistant professor and founder of WENTECH, an initiative that empowers young girls ages 13 to 18 with STEM skills through workshops, conferences and events.
Gisele has begun two years of postdoctoral research at France’s Université d’Orléans, studying at its engineering facility, Polytech Orléans. There, she will work on developing an intelligent electricity grid that can identify the consumer use on an electrical network in order to provide optimal management to both energy suppliers and consumers. Gisele reflected on her accomplishment in a recent post, saying, “This is an opportunity to tell all those who follow me that anything is possible for those who have the will and the commitment. Believe in ourselves.”
Report Date...: 4/26/21
Fellow recognized for bringing free courses to Kyrgyz students
Fellow(s): Gulzire Minbaeva
After visiting Khan Academy HQ during TechWomen 2018, fellow Gulzire Minbaeva maintained her connection with the academy’s internal communications officer, becoming an official language advocate for the academy when she returned home to Kyrgyzstan. Since then, Gulzire and her team of project managers, proofreaders, methodologists and over 200 volunteers have worked to translate Khan Academy courses, empowering students to reach their full potential by providing them with effective learning opportunities.
Gulzire, now the official representative of Khan Academy in Kyrgyzstan, was featured in an article this month from Limon.Kg, where she was interviewed about her work as an education advocate. “There is an acute shortage of resources in the Kyrgyz language in our country,” she said. “This became especially noticeable during the pandemic, when everyone switched to online learning.” Gulzire and her team have worked to translate 250 video courses to Kyrgyz, available for free to students throughout Kyrgyzstan. By September, she hopes to have published 2,000. “I want to revolutionize the education system of Kyrgyzstan,” she said.
Report Date...: 4/19/21
TechWomen announces virtual delegations
Fellow(s): TechWomen announces virtual delegations
Country: Cameroon, Palestinian Territories
Each year the TechWomen program has the opportunity to continue knowledge-sharing and deepen exchange through delegation trips, traveling to two TechWomen program countries to strengthen an international network of women in STEM fields, inspire women and girls and create exchange between the United States and TechWomen program countries.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the TechWomen community has shown that connection, professional development and mentorship can thrive in a virtual setting. IIE is excited to facilitate additional learning and exchange through its first-ever virtual delegations to the Palestinian Territories and Cameroon, two regions IIE has not had the opportunity to visit. In May, a small group of TechWomen mentors will participate in high-impact fellow-led events in the Palestinian Territories including a STEM learning event and a workshop with women entrepreneurs. In June, mentors will join Cameroonian fellows in their interactive and engaging events centered on robotics with young students and small group career-sharing sessions with university students.
Report Date...: 4/5/21
Fellows and mentors collaborate for TIKE webinar
Fellow(s): Imene Henni Mansour, Celia Ouabas, Katy Dickinson (mentor) and Jessica Dickinson Goodman (mentor)
Country: Algeria, United States
During TechWomen 2019, team Algeria created TIKE (Teacher’s Initiative for Kids Education), their action plan that addressed the country’s high student dropout rate through supporting educators and students. TIKE did not win a seed grant, but fellows Imene Henni Mansour and Celia Ouabas were undeterred, continuing to develop the project with support from their Impact Coach Katy Dickinson. TIKE launched in 2020, hosting workshops for schoolteachers themed on supporting Algeria’s students.
TIKE has continued its work in 2021, holding events for parents that explore ways to support children. Their latest webinar, “Academic success from the parent and child perspectives,” invited Katy and her daughter, TechWomen Impact Coach Jessica Dickinson Goodman, to share their perspectives on success and how parents can support their children in academics and beyond. During the talk, Katy explained that parents must actively work to not impose their own fears on their children’s potential, instead instilling in them a sense of ability and independence. Jessica agreed, saying “Academic success, namable achievements and titles are useful only in places where they can help you reach your goals. They don’t have intrinsic value to me — they have utilitarian value.” Imene and Celia will continue to host conversations that help Algerian parents, students and teachers: “We very much hope that the whole interview will help our audience of parents and teachers be more understanding towards children, and give the right support they need to help leverage their potential in the best environment possible,” they said.
Report Date...: 3/29/21
Fellow shares entrepreneurial journey in State Department talk
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa
This week, 2017 fellow of Lindiwe Matlali was interviewed by Molly Kress of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, speaking about her work, her TechWomen experience and her advice for entrepreneurs. The Instagram Live conversation was part of ECA’s Inside Exchanges – Women’s History Month series that features exchange alumna who are making a global impact.
Lindiwe is the founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks, Africa’s largest computer science academy dedicated to teaching underserved communities within South Africa and beyond. During South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown, Lindiwe and her team launched STEM Lockdown Digital School, hiring 150 teachers to work on the free virtual learning program that ultimately reached over 500,000 children. Africa Teen Geeks is currently planning its expansion to Argentina as well as developing their partnership with South Africa’s Department of Basic Education that will implement ATG’s curriculum in schools: “Every child irrespective of their background will be able to access the curriculum,” she said.
Lindiwe also spoke about her TechWomen experience and how she used her mentorship experience to network, facilitate future projects and expand her impact. “I believe in having strong relationships with other women, especially those that have paved the way,” Lindiwe said. She concluded by sharing a Zulu saying: “You can only get directions from those who have already walked the path.”
Report Date...: 3/22/21
World Bank features fellow’s impact in Central Asia
Fellow(s): Saida Yusopova
2016 fellow Saida Yusopova was recently featured by The World Bank in Europe and Central Asia in a video spotlight that highlighted her work bringing tech training and workshops to over 5,000 girls in Uzbekistan.
Saida is the co-founder and CEO of Green Business Innovation as well as a regional ambassador for Technovation. Alongside 2016 fellows Elena Selezneva and Ozoda Ismailova, Saida established Technovation’s first chapter in Uzbekistan, supporting teams of girls in building mobile apps that solve real-world issues in their communities. Since Technovation launched in Uzbekistan, over 5,000 girls have coded 250 mobile apps that bring innovative solutions to their communities. “Some people believe that the IT profession isn’t suitable for women,” said Saida. Through Technovation, Saida is challenging that stereotype, creating a pipeline for more girls to study IT and enter the tech sector. “We can confidently say that the challenge has a significant impact on the lives of our participants,” she said.
Report Date...: 3/22/21
Fellow featured in global forum on women in leadership
Fellow(s): Reema Diab
2019 fellow Reema Diab presented on her initiative that empowers women and girls with IT skills at this week’s Global Viewpoints Forum hosted by Legacy International. The event also featured TechGirls alumna Lara Kasbari of the Palestinian Territories.
Reema is the founder of Galaxy Organization, an IT non-profit that hosts programs for youth and women in artificial intelligence, coding and more. In her presentation, Reema outlined the unemployment challenges women face in Jordan, explaining that women only account for 12% of the Jordanian workforce. Through its programs, Galaxy has a mission to train women and youth with IT skills that will help them find jobs and opportunities: “All the women and youth are empowered to create a better life using their skills in technology,” said Reema. Galaxy has trained over 2,200 girls through its cybersecurity program, and 550 women have participated in its online business program. The organization has recently expanded its reach to women and youth in Egypt, Dubai and the Philippines.
Report Date...: 3/22/21
Fellow’s non-profit opens a STEM space for girls
Fellow(s): Janet Leparteleg and Chepkemoi Magdaline
Cohort: 2017, 2019
Butterfly Techies, the non-profit founded by 2017 fellow Janet Leparteleg, has opened its first STEM space for students in Samburu County, Kenya. Janet created Butterfly Techies in 2016 with a mission to expose high school girls from arid and semi-arid counties to STEM careers and empower them with digital literacy skills. In addition to founding the non-profit, Janet is an assistant ICT officer at ICT authority as well as a 2019 Chevening Scholar.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Janet’s outreach to schools in rural Kenya came to a halt. “Schools in Kenya had been closed for nine months, and once they resumed, there were very strict measures for school visits,” she said. “That affected our programs, and we felt the need to open up a community space to increase our scope from students to entire communities.” Butterfly Techies has already purchased computers and supplies for their pilot program, which will bring in 12 students for classes on digital literacy. The first cohort begins in two weeks, and Janet is already speaking to partners – many of whom are TechWomen fellows – who will create programs that train students in IT, 21st century skills, leadership and more. This month, Butterfly Techies also partnered with North-Rift Women in STEM, the AEIF-winning initiative co-led by 2019 fellow Chepkemoi Magdaline, to run a STEM training bootcamp for 90 women and girls in Samburu County.
Report Date...: 3/15/21
With award funds fellow plans to build STEM center for kids
Fellow(s): Rita Clemence Mutabazi
Last month, 2013 fellow Rita Clemence Mutabazi was named a winner of the Women in Science Award for her commitment to advancing science in Rwanda. Rita is the principal of IPRC Tumba, a polytechnic school specializing in IT, electronics, communication technology and green tech. Rita serves as the only woman principal among the greater consortium of polytechnic schools in Kigali.
The event was held on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and organized by The National Council for Science and Technology in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Rwanda Association for Women in Science and Engineering, and Next Einstein Forum. Rita was honored alongside four other women, and was given the Science Leadership Award in recognition of her dedication to promoting science among women and girls in Rwanda. Rita will use her award funds to help create a STEM makerspace at her former primary school, and has recruited the help of TechWomen fellows. Noella Nibakuze (2018), Zani Gichuki (2019) and Shakira Nyiratuza (2019), all of whom work at MASS Design Group, will lend their skills to help design a space that will have an electronics corner, biology corner and other STEM tools to inspire students. “This journey won’t be possible without TechWomen alumnae and all the girls who aspire to be engineers, scientists and technologists that have fueled my passion to do more,” said Rita.
Report Date...: 3/8/21