Impact Stories from Youth Engagement Policy Area
TechWomen alumnae celebrate International Day of Friendship
Fellow(s): Salma Bekkouche, Fatima Zohra Benhamida, Edith Mugehu, Flora Asibe, Laura Messerschmitt, Noha Elkattan
Country: Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, United States, Zimbabwe
July 30 is the United Nations International Day of Friendship, a day that recognizes the power of establishing strong ties, building bridges and working together for positive change. Proclaimed an official day in 2011, the International Day of Friendship acknowledges that unity and cross-cultural understanding are essential to peace-building. In celebration, the TechWomen blog features three stories of friendship, mentorship and collaboration from the TechWomen fellows and mentors themselves. The stories – from Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, the United States and Zimbabwe – show the power of friendship and support, and the impact created when extraordinary women unite.
2018 fellow of Algeria Salma Bekkouche writes about her friend and mentor, 2017 fellow Fatima Zohra Benhamida, sharing how Fatima supported her through her studies, encouraged her to apply for TechWomen and mentored her through some of her greatest challenges. 2018 fellow of Zimbabwe Edith Mugehu and 2020-2021 fellow of Nigeria Flora Asibe share how they met in Kenya, beginning not only a treasured friendship, but also professional collaboration, leading them to co-author two papers on plant biotechnology and pathology. Professional Mentor Laura Messerschmitt and 2017 fellow of Egypt Noha Elkattan conclude with their story of mentorship and connection: “Throughout the TechWomen program, I have always felt like we were one family, accepting each other, embracing our differences, and sharing our culture,” Noha writes. “When differences melt and fade away, we become stronger and we lift each other up. Life is a big network that, if fed with love and respect, will become stronger and enlighten the whole world.”
Report Date...: 7/26/21
Fellow delivers guest lecture on women in technology fields
Fellow(s): Sebay Koroma
Country: Sierra Leone
This week, 2018 fellow Sebay Koroma delivered a guest lecture to students at the Canadian College of Modern Technology in Mafunde, Sierra Leone. Sebay works as a petroleum engineer for the Sierra Leone Petroleum Directorate in addition to serving as a Next Einstein Forum ambassador. Her lecture, themed on women’s participation in technology, outlined the “stereotype threat” – a phenomenon where people conform to stereotypes about their social group – and how it may contribute to the underrepresentation of women in tech fields. “We talked about seeing effort as a path to mastery, persevering in the face of challenges, taking constructive criticism in stride and being inspired by the success of others,” Sebay said. Together, the group discussed why diversity matters, and how it leads to innovation, better performance and role models for youth. “As a STEM Enthusiast, it is always an honor to lend my voice to conversations about technology,” said Sebay. “What better way to give back than to share knowledge with young, vibrant scholars?”Read More »
Report Date...: 7/26/21
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 speaks about 21st century job skills in keynote
Fellow(s): Sarah Abdallah
2016 fellow Sarah Abdallah was invited as keynote speaker for the launch of Shabab Lab, the first social innovation e-learning platform in the Arab world. Sarah is a consultant, lecturer and community co-lead of Beirut’s Facebook Developer Circle. In the event, attended by Shabab Lab participants, Sarah addressed COVID- 19’s impact on the future of jobs, as well as the way it has created professional development challenges for youth and entrepreneurs. She emphasized the need for youth to be trained in 21st-century skills and work in partnership to create a more sustainable, innovative and equitable world: “If we go alone we can go faster, but if we go together we can go further,” she said. With the future of work bringing greater automation, Sarah shared the top 10 skills of 2025, which include creativity, analytical thinking and resilience. “The future is ahead of us. We can shape our own future. You are the leaders of tomorrow,” she said.Read More »
Report Date...: 7/19/21
In speech fellow inspires girls in STEM4Girls program
Fellow(s): Salma Bekkouche
2018 fellow Salma Bekkouche recently spoke to 40 high school girls in four cities throughout Algeria, sharing about her international education experience and giving advice on career challenges and opportunities. The event was organized by World Learning Algeria with sponsorship from the U.S. Embassy Algiers.
The girls, ages 14-17, are participants in World Learning’s STEM4Girls program, an initiative that trains girls in STEM activities and supports them with career planning. Salma, who has previously served as a World Learning speaker and participated in their TechCamp, is a recruiter and blogger with a mission to empower Algerian youth. On her blog and YouTube channel, Salma Share, Salma gives career advice for young people and shares her international education experiences with TechWomen, TechGirls and more. In her World Learning talk, Salma spoke about her educational and career path, sharing ways the girls can develop their careers through volunteering, mentorship and network-building. “I met enthusiastic and ambitious girls who are eager to learn about applying to TechGirls, finding opportunities around the world and joining STEM universities after high school,” she said.Read More »
Report Date...: 7/12/21
Fellow featured in article as a prominent woman in STEM
Fellow(s): Madina Samakbaeva
2020-2021 fellow Madina Samakbaeva was recently featured in an article written in partnership between Girls in Science, Kyrgyzstan’s Child Protection Center and UNICEF. Madina is a quality control chemist for the Kyrgyz Republic’s Center for Veterinary Diagnostics and Expertise, as well as the founder of Easysciencekg, a platform that provides easy and accessible chemistry lessons to both children and adults. She has also contributed to TechWomen fellow-led Techaim, most recently creating a video for kids on determining pH and how it affects our health on their new STEAM channel, WeSTEAM. Beginning in 2019, Madina began volunteering with the Girls in Science Project, first creating STEM curriculum and now mentoring 12 girls on their career planning. “My TechWomen experience as a mentee has helped me to build and organize their mentorships,” she said.
In the article, Madina spoke about the challenges she faced as woman in chemistry, remembering how she was often told a career in science would interfere with getting married and having children. “Even those closest to me said, ‘You chose science, so, you will never build a family life,’” Madina said. “At the same time, none of them thought about what useful things I can do as I develop in science.” Madina also gave advice for youth in Kyrgyzstan who are considering STEM fields: “Science is not something unattainable. Do not be afraid to go into science — you need to be open, try and find your own way,” she said.
Report Date...: 6/28/21
At CodeHack fellows come together to support girls
Fellow(s): Ruth Kaveke and Joan Nabusoba
Cohort: 2017, 2020-2021
This week, fellows and co-founders of Pwani Teknowgalz Ruth Kaveke (2017) and Joan Nabusoba (2020-2021) invited three fellows to serve as judges for CodeHack, their latest project that trains young women with digital skills. With five STEM Café programs at American Corners throughout Kenya, coding classes, conferences and more, Pwani Teknowgalz aims to educate and empower girls through STEM education.
Their first CodeHack cohort – referred to as their “COVID-19 Edition” – worked with 150 young women ages 17 to 28 from marginalized communities in six Kenyan counties, training them in website development, mobile development and digital marketing. “This is geared toward empowering these young women in Kenya with technology skills that have proved crucial during this COVID-19 pandemic,” the fellows said. In the closing session, young women from the CodeHack cohort shared their mobile application solutions that solve community problems in front of a panel of judges that included fellows Serah Kahiu (2014), Alice Mbui (2015) and Gladys Maina (2020-2021). “All the three fellows are role models and mentors that the aspiring young women could connect to and seek further mentorship after the program,” said Ruth. Together the fellows judged the most innovative solutions that align with the UN SDG goals, giving the teams feedback and ultimately choosing the top three winners. “Whether you’re a semi-finalist or finalist, we still count all of you as a success,” said Joan. “We are celebrating all of you, and all your efforts.”
Report Date...: 6/21/21
Fellow’s social impact initiative wins youth award
Fellow(s): Hiba Awaysa
Country: Palestinian Territories
This week it was announced that Sawaed19, the initiative founded by 2020-2021
fellow Hiba Awaysa, was named a winner of the Taawon Youth Award, an award
that supports social entrepreneurs in the Palestinian Territories that are creating
both economic and societal impact. Sawaed19 was one of five winners selected
out of over 100 projects.
Hiba established Sawaed19 in 2019 with a mission to match volunteers to nonprofits
around the world. The Sawaed19 website allows users to search by
location, industry and company, supporting them in contributing to the volunteer
ecosystem in their communities. Through Sawaed19, Hiba hopes to empower her
local community, particuarly youth, to create positive change. She will use the
award funds to further develop the platform, adding features that better
facilitates the volunteering process and management. She’ll also create a new
outreach campaign to encourage volunteering. “When you give others some
time, effort, or money to help them get better life, your are actually investing to
yourself in return,” she says.
Report Date...: 6/21/21
TechWomen begins virtual delegation to Cameroon
Fellow(s): Cameroon fellows and mentor delegates
Country: Cameroon, United States
The TechWomen delegation to Cameroon has officially begun, bringing engaging events to young students, recent university graduates, women leaders, entrepreneurs and more. Although this year’s delegations are virtual, the mission remains the same as ever: to strengthen an international network of women in STEM fields, creating partnership and exchange between the United States and TechWomen program countries.
In a kick-off U.S Embassy Briefing, fellows and mentor delegates had the opportunity to hear from representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde about Cameroon, its tech landscape and their priorities within the region. Week two began with Branding and Networking in a Virtual Era, a session that brought together mentors, fellows and university students in STEM fields to talk about creating meaningful and lasting networks in a virtual world. Mentors presented on cultural intelligence, building an online brand and managing virtual teams and more. “Be your authentic self. Don’t try to be someone else when you are online — be who you are,” mentor Janice Campbell said in her talk. In the third event, Design Thinking and Physical Computing, mentors and fellows met with over 100 girls from both Douala and Yaounde to explore the power of tangible computing and constructionism through making. At the end of the day, the students shared out what they learned: “When I came here I learned how to create a game, I learned about design thinking, and I also learned about people and the things they invented,” said one student.
Report Date...: 6/14/21
In panel fellows share advice and inspiration for women
Fellow(s): Israa Mousa, Nadiah Sabaneh
Country: Palestinian Territories
Cohort: 2015, 2020-2021
2020-2021 fellow Israa Mousa and 2015 fellow Nadiah
Sabaneh were featured in an online panel for an event
that spotlighted inspiring women in the Palestinian
Territories who spoke about their challenges, resilience
and advice for women in technology. The event was
hosted and live-streamed on YouTube by Women in
On the panel, Israa shared her achievements in tech
despite the barriers she has faced, speaking about how
she has supported young entrepreneurs in Gaza, empowered girls with digital inclusion skills and recently
launched a new startup that helps women bring their handicraft businesses online. “As humans we
underestimate ourselves and our efforts,” Israa said when asked about impostor syndrome. “Don’t be hard on
yourself, find the balance between work and family and your needs.” Nadiah, a tech hub manager, program
manager and mentor, spoke about her career path and her dedication to empowering women in her
community: “The reason is to pave the way for other women, so they don’t need to go through the same
challenges we went through,” she said.
Report Date...: 6/14/21