The TechWomen program is in South Africa this week for the first of two delegation trips in 2015. Delegation trips bring the program full-circle by engaging mentors and Emerging Leaders in program countries abroad, while also exposing them to local leaders, country-wide initiatives, educational institutions, and businesses supporting women and girls in STEM.
The week of exchange kicked off with a tour of Johannesburg, where delegates visited the Apartheid Museum to learn more about the country’s history during this seminal period. The day concluded with a welcome dinner at the home of Patience Mthunzi’s mother, a 2014 alumna from South Africa.
Yesterday, the delegation took part in a welcome briefing with U.S. Embassy staff and a round table discussion on women and technology in Africa with the African Development Bank (AfDB). In the first session, delegates learned more about South Africa’s economic, political, development, and commercial sectors. While the country has grown tremendously since its Apartheid economy, having the second largest GDP in the continent, there is still a lack of investment in the areas of broadband, entrepreneurship, and angel investment. Conversely, there is much being done in the space of international development, as delegates learned how USAID is bolstering regional programming in the areas of low-emission energy development and power production, environmental grid energy, and educational capacity building in partnership with local NGOs.
This thorough and informative session with the embassy segue into a lively dialogue with the AfDB, where delegates learned more about policy taking shape in South Africa that will help create a clear path for women’s equality and participation in STEM fields. Part of AfDB’s work is to spur economic development and social process the world over. Delegates had the opportunity to speak on various topics concerning women’s equality and women in technology. Drawing from the multitude of experiences as professionals, mentors, entrepreneurs, and founders, the group of TechWomen alumnae had much to share. View tweeted highlights from delegates at the AfDB event below:
— Arezoo Miot (@arezoomiot) January 26, 2015
— Jill Wetzler (@JillWetzler) January 26, 2015
— Katy Dickinson (@katy_dickinson) January 26, 2015
Much more than broadband access: women need to be empowered to take advantage of opportunities. We think too simply about the issue #twsa
— IdaRose Sylvester (@idarose) January 26, 2015
— rumbidzayi mlambo (@rumbiemutinhiri) January 26, 2015
— Sandra Tererai (@_sabbs_) January 26, 2015
— Eileen_Brewer (@tothelefteileen) January 26, 2015
After a day exploring Johannesburg’s culture and participating in two invigorating sessions learning about South African policy, the delegation is poised to learn more about women in technology and engage with local leaders at a deeper level.