Impact Stories from Youth Engagement Policy Area
Fellow creates online IT course for Arab youth
Fellow(s): Ala’a Agha Karss
This month, 2017 fellow of Jordan Ala’a Agha Karss partnered with Edraak, an online course platform from the Queen Rania Foundation, to create a comprehensive online training for Arab youth. Ala’a is the founder and CTO of Superiors TechHub, and trains women in the Middle East on coding, mobile app development and more.
The online course is geared towards learners 16 and up, and is focused on mobile app development using Android technology. After customizing the course for both new and advanced learners, Ala’a filmed the training in Arabic. “Language is a barrier keeping learners away from online training — not all of them speak English,” she says. “It’s really important to learn coding, as it’s the new currency of this era.” The training will soon be available on the Edraak platform, and Ala’a is looking forward to increasing youth’s access to IT education and continued learning.
Report Date...: 12/16/19
Fellow collaborates with GE to donate laptops to girls’ school
Fellow(s): Salome Gathoni
Recently, 2018 fellow Salome Gathoni collaborated with her employer, GE, to donate a computer lab to a public girls’ high school in Kenya. Internet connection for the lab was donated by Valenter Global, a company Salome was introduced to during TechWomen that brings skills training to underserved communities.
After Salome’s TechWomen mentor at Unity Technologies introduced her to Valenter founder Natalie Meyer, Salome travelled to Burlington to meet Natalie and her team after TechWomen concluded in Washington, D.C. Soon after, Salome submitted a proposal to a GE Foundation program designed to empower less privileged communities by providing technology, training and connectivity. Working alongside Natalie, GE and St. Anne’s Girls Secondary School in Nairobi, Salome coordinated the donation of 30 laptops, flat screen monitors, keyboards and mice to the schools’ 870 girls. The girls also had the opportunity to learn from visiting GE senior staff, who shared their career journeys and inspired the girls to remain ambitious despite challenges.
The school has already begun digital literacy training and is providing classes on using the internet for academic research. “The school will be able to provide educational support for the students in a better and efficient way, thereby enhancing their competency in STEM,” says Salome. “The girls can dream big and become great.”
Report Date...: 12/9/19
Fellows named Next Einstein Forum Ambassadors
Fellow(s): Chioma Ezedi, Sebay Momoh
Country: Nigeria, Sierra Leone
Cohort: 2013, 2018
This week, it was announced that 2016 fellow of Nigeria Chioma Ezedi and 2018 fellow of Sierra Leone Sebay Momoh were named to the 2019-2021 class of Next Einstein Forum Ambassadors. The NEF Ambassador program selects young technology and science champions from each African country to lead public engagement activities and partner with established mentors and researchers to advance their own careers in STEM.
Chioma, a software programmer and founder of STEMteers, is hoping to accelerate collaboration with other STEM advocacy groups, using the local dialect for outreach in order to make NEF’s Africa Science Week successful in every part of Nigeria. She is also eager to localize science advocacy in her community: “Nothing thrives if only a small percentage of the population understands it,” she says.
Sebay is a petroleum engineer and the program coordinator for STEM Women SL, an NGO that aims to improve science education in Sierra Leone. As a NEF ambassador, she will continue to advocate for quality science education in Sierra Leone. “I am passionate about creating the right ecosystem to nurture brilliant and innovative ideas of young scientists in Sierra Leone,” says Sebay. “I want to shine a light on young creative minds, source funding to help them improve on their ideas and also inspire others. The more people are exposed to opportunities of this nature, the more hands and minds we have to work together. There is power in collaboration.”
Report Date...: 12/2/19
Fellow hosts hackathon for justice at World Bank Group in DC
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa, United States
This month, 2017 fellow of South Africa Lindiwe Matlali’s initiative Africa Teen Geeks collaborated with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank Group to hold a global #Hackathon4Justice in Washington, D.C. Hosted at the World Bank Headquarters, the three-day hackathon brought 25 students ages 13-18 from Bulgaria, India, Mexico, Tunisia and South Africa together to develop solutions to combat exploitation and promote peace in their home countries and beyond. TechWomen director Katie Zee, Professional Mentor Eileen Brewer, and three 2019 TechWomen fellows attended the event; Eileen provided coaching and mentorship to the country teams, guiding them in crystallizing their ideas and presenting their pitches.
Over the three days, the five student teams learned from World Bank and UNODC leaders as they developed innovative solutions that promoted inclusive societies and access to justice for all. A panel of judges, which included Amy Christianson from the Department of State, named Mexico the winner at the end of the hackathon: the team’s interactive game for young children will be able to send red flag warnings to teachers about potential domestic violence situations. As a prize, the team will travel to the UN’s 14th Crime Congress in Kyoto in April 2020 to present their app. At the conclusion of the event, Lindiwe addressed all teams, saying “I have been so inspired to hear all your ideas. When you go home, do the same and inspire your peers to make a difference.”
Report Date...: 11/18/19
Fellow’s company joins UN group committed to gender equality
Fellow(s): Aina Dosmakhambet
This week, it was announced that 2019 fellow Aina Dosmakhambet’s coding education company was admitted as a member of Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP), a joint initiative of the UN Global Compact and UN Women. Out of 2660 companies with WEP status, only 13 are from Kazakhstan.
Companies that are approved for WEP are committed to gender equality in the workplace, taking measurable strides to increasing equity and inclusion through their services. Aina is the CEO of Method Digital Education, an Almaty-based IT school that provides education for both children and adults in coding, web design, game development, data analysis and more. Their Girls Coding Class provides a space for young girls to develop both their technical and leadership skills, and includes leadership lessons from women entrepreneurs and excursions to local IT companies to meet successful women in tech.
Report Date...: 11/11/19
Three alumnae teams awarded 2019 AEIF grants
Fellow(s): Chepkemoi Magdalene, Nazira Sheraly, Aiturgan Zulpukarova, Elena Chigibaeva, Gulzire Minbaeva, Fatima Abdulaziz Sule, Olayinka Ayo, Safiya Aliyu, Pamela Chukwumeka, Ijeoma Ezika
Country: Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria
Cohort: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
This week, it was announced that three TechWomen alumnae teams were awarded a U.S Department of State 2019 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) grant. The alumnae projects, based out of Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria, were selected out of more than 1,400 project submissions.
Kenya’s North-Rift Women in STEM Inclusion Project , co-led by 2019 fellow Chepkemoi Magdalene, will host bootcamps on coding and the digital economy for nearly 500 underserved women and girls in the North Rift region of the country. The team also plans to award 30 of the participants a year-long mentorship opportunity. Kyrgyzstan’s TechAim was created by 2016 fellow Nazira Sheraly, 2017 fellow Aiturgan Zulpukarova and 2018 fellows Elena Chigibaeva and Gulzire Minbaeva. The mentorship program supports women and girls, particularly those outside of the capital city, to grow and develop their STEM skills and expand their knowledge in business, leadership project management and more. MAAMI Nigeria, originally a TechWomen 2018 seed grant-winning initiative from fellows Fatima Abdulaziz Sule, Olayinka Ayo, Safiya Aliyu, Pamela Chukwumeka and Ijeoma Ezika, is a mobile health literacy program that aims to provide underserved mothers access to safe, relevant and customized pre- and post-natal health information.
Report Date...: 11/4/2019
Fellow inspires youth at Model United Nations gathering
Fellow(s): Sarah Abdallah
Last month, 2016 fellow Sarah Abdallah was invited to Dubai to deliver a keynote address at the Arab Youth International Model United Nations conference. The annual conference brings together youth throughout the Arab world, facilitating conversation on creating change and peace worldwide. Together, the young delegates debated global issues, created responses to global crises and participated in activities that celebrated cross-cultural exchange.
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. In her keynote, Sarah addressed the challenges youth face today, sharing specific setbacks she faced as a young person. She stressed, however, that young people have a powerful voice and a unique ability to create exponential change in their communities. “I explained how young people can turn their problems into opportunities,” she said. Sarah concluded her keynote with an activity called “Inclusion Starts with an ‘I,’” tasking each young person to write down an action they can take to make the world a better place. “I added in my own as well,” says Sarah. “I committed to support the youth of today in becoming the leaders and decision makers of tomorrow.”
Report Date...: 10/21/19
Alumnae initiative awarded grant from U.S Embassy Algiers
Fellow(s): Amel Djenidi, Salma Bekkouche, Fatima Zohra Benhamida
Cohort: 2017, 2018
After TechWomen 2018, fellows Amel Djenidi and Salma Bekkouche wanted to continue working together. They began collaborating with 2017 fellow Fatima Zohra Benhamida, and together the three fellows conceived of Heya Caravan, a project that empowers girls and women through STEM education. This week, it was announced that they secured a grant from the U.S. Embassy Algiers’ Alumni Small Grant Competition, which will allow them to launch their project in 2020.
Heya (Arabic for “she”) Caravan will be a one-day training where STEM leaders will share their expertise with women and girls in sessions, workshops and panels. Through roundtables based on four themes — Know Yourself, Build your Skills, Build your Network and Build your Personal Branding – women and high school-aged girls will be supported in building both technical and soft skills. Heya Caravan will also offer six months of remote mentorship to attendees through monthly lessons and assignments on resume writing, networking, skill building and more. In the coming months, the fellows will work to establish additional partnerships and funding, and hope to launch Heya Caravan in 2020 in three cities throughout Algeria.
Report Date...: 10/14/19
Fellow’s initiative wins Harvard alumni impact contest
Fellow(s): Shatha Jayyousi
This week, it was announced that Code on the Road, the initiative launched by 2013 fellow Shatha Jayyousi, was chosen as the winner for the Harvard Arab Alumni Association impact competition.
The Harvard alumni initiative, 3arabi, aims to support implementation of innovative projects that positively impact the Arab world. Code on the Road is a 2018 AEIF-winning project that empowers migrant women and girls through software and business entrepreneurship training in Athens and Amman.
As the winner, Code on the Road will be matched with an advisory group of representatives from the public and private sectors who will support them through investment, team-building support and strategic partnerships. Shatha and her team will also present their initiative at the upcoming Harvard Arab World Conference in Dubai.
Report Date...: 10/14/19
TechGirls and Technovation collaborate in Nablus
Fellow(s): Ayah Soufan, Yamama Shakaa, Ruba Awayes
Country: Palestinian Territories
Cohort: 2015, 2016, 2017
Last month, 2015 fellow Ayah Soufan collaborated with 2016 fellow Yamama Shakaa and 2017 fellow Ruba Awayes for a closing ceremony of the 2019 Technovation season. Ayah, the event organizer, is a regional ambassador of the Technovation Challenge as well as a leader of the TechWomen /TechGirls Club in the West Bank.
The event brought together nearly 90 girls between the ages of 10 to 17, as well as their Technovation mentors. Yamama, who served as a mentor for the team that won second place in 2018, and Ruba were featured speakers, sharing the importance of seeking innovative solutions to leading issues in their community. Technovation participants also had an opportunity to share their experience and highlight what they’d learned.
Two TechGirls alumnae, Nagham Joudeh and Sima Sbouh, joined to speak about the TechGirls program and share its transformative effect on their lives and career paths. Nagham is now a sixth-year medical school student, and Sima is a second-year computer engineering student. “I’m sure that this will be the beginning of many different events that feature collaboration between Techwomen and TechGirls alumnae,” said Ayah.
Report Date...: 10/7/19