During the 2019 program, TechWomen had over 300 mentors guiding, supporting and learning from Emerging Leaders.The relationships forged between Emerging Leaders and mentors often transcend the fall program, continuing as the Emerging Leaders become fellows and return home to their respective countries.
Each year the TechWomen program has the opportunity to continue knowledge-sharing and deepen exchange by traveling to two program countries on a delegation trip. This year, we are very excited to announce our 2020 delegation trip destinations: Rwanda and Tunisia! Later this month, 18 TechWomen mentors will kick-off the first delegation of the year in Kigali, Rwanda, joined by 15 traveling fellows from Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and more. There, the group will join forces with nearly 30 Rwandan fellows who are currently hard at work organizing a week of educational and inspirational programming.
Delegations are a cornerstone of the TechWomen program, serving a vital role in growing and sustaining the TechWomen network. The trips serve to strengthen an international network of women in STEM fields, creating partnership and exchange between the United States and TechWomen program countries. Throughout the week in February, mentors and fellows will visit fellow-led initiatives, non-governmental organizations, universities, incubators and innovation hubs. Delegates from the United States will learn about the STEM ecosystem in Rwanda, share their knowledge and expertise and encourage women and girls to pursue STEM fields.
#twimpact in Rwanda
Rwanda, known as “the land of a thousand hills,” became a part of the TechWomen program in 2013. 30 TechWomen mentors first visited Rwanda on delegation in 2014, when Rwanda had just six fellows; since then, 37 women total have participated in the program and have returned home to create initiatives, inspire women and girls and gain both local and global recognition for their efforts in STEM fields and beyond.
- The 2018 fellows of Rwanda were one of five country cohorts to receive a $3,000 seed grant to support the implementation of their action plan that was developed during the 2018 TechWomen program. Fellows Vanny Nicole Katabarwa, Pascale Mugwaneza, Christa Munezero, Noella Nibakuze, Solange Uwera and Lucie Uwizeye created Healing Together, a community-based initiative that sets up trusted and safe environments where women survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi can access counseling services. This past June, the fellows began implementation of their program, training 40 counselors from 28 districts on group counseling and group therapy.
- Her2Voice was founded by 2013 fellows Rita Clemence Mutabazi, Neza Guillaine, Winnie Ngamije, Angel Bisamaza, Diane Ukwishaka and Emma Marie Ndoringoma to encourage young girls to pursue STEM fields. After securing a grants through IIE and the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Her2Voice created STEM mentor programs for high school-aged youth in five provinces throughout Rwanda. So far they have worked with over 800 girls.
- In 2013, the UNDP reported that the majority of occupants in Rwanda’s refugee camps were young girls. In response to the challenges these girls faced, 2013 fellows Neza Guillaine, Emma Marie Ndoringoma, Winnie Ngamije and Rita Clemence Mutabazi, alongside 2014 fellows Enatha Mukantwari and Placidie Benamahirwe, founded Refugee Girls Need You, winning an Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) grant in 2015 in order to implement their project. Their initiative supports girls ages 11-21 through personal development programs, computer education and vocational training.
- After TechWomen, 2015 fellow Solange Tuyisenge partnered with the Mozilla Foundation to implement more than one hundred digital literacy clubs in five districts in Rwanda. The initiative reached more than 3,000 individuals, focusing on women and youth in rural and underserved communities. She is also a mentor for the Technovation program in Rwanda, and helped organize Ms. Geek Africa Competition which aims to inspire more girls to enter STEM fields.
A week of activity in one of Africa’s major tech hubs
The Rwandan fellows have been working together to organize engaging site visits, workshops, panels, breakout sessions and much more. Through interactive events, they hope to showcase their country’s culture and create an environment where mentors, fellows, students and entrepreneurs can learn from each others’ personal and professional experiences. Mentors and visiting fellows are looking forward to the week’s programming, which will include a visit to a women’s vocational center, breakout sessions with students at a polytechnic college and a STEM fair for secondary school students in Kigali. Be sure to follow along here on the TechWomen blog, as well as on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as we provide daily updates from the Rwanda delegation. See you soon, Rwanda!