I am so delighted to share our Project Kuongoza mentoring program for the year which we kick-started yesterday, the 6th of August 2020. The project Kuongoza initative was born out of the need to address the under-representation of young women and girls in STEM who are in Sub-Saharan countries.
According to a recent survey, 13 out of the 15 countries in the world - where more than 30% of secondary school age girls are out of school - reside in Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA Nations. As girls get older, the gender gap in education steadily widens. By upper secondary school, there are gender disparities in 91% of 21 countries. The pandemic is also threatening the commitment to eliminate gender disparities at all levels, including education.
We understand this economic challenge and offer mentorship to improve women's acquisition and adoption of critical soft and technical skills in STEM pathways and, in this way, contribute to reduce the skills mismatch that are affecting womens’ productivity and organizational' competitiveness in the rapidly changing context.
The Project Kuongoza mentoring program aims to empower, support and connect STEM career development for three groups of women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa:
1. Underskilled/Under-employed young women and girls in entry-level STEM-related pathways,
2. Disadvantaged females in Secondary schools and Universities.
3. Mid-level skilled women working in STEM fields or considering to delve into STEM-related fields.
Expanding the Project Kuongoza reach is our way to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and the existing social exclusion. We took a bold step to accept more intakes for the year irrespective of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the few mentors we have. Due to the overwhelming number of mentees who qualified, we re-strategized by assigning five (5) mentees to a mentor. In our quest for these girls and young women to effectively transition from education to employment, we took great care matching them together based on their focus topics and the mentor's expertise. Upon sending out the program plans and details to 165 of them, we also advised they communicate with their colleagues and the professional mentor as to the best way communications will be held that can host all six of them conveniently.
We also gave them tips and agenda items to take into their first mentoring meetings, like getting to know each other to help build the foundation and trust needed for a great mentoring relationship, setting the ground rules for better mentor-mentee relationship.
I am so happy to share that we successfully brought onboard 38 mentors, 165 young mentees from 21 Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA Nations.
We are looking forward to accepting more mentors for next month because we still have over 700 mentees on the waiting list to be connected with mentors.
Would you like to join to give back to the community by mentoring young women and girls who are in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics or Entrepreneurship? We would love to have you onboard as a STEMi Mentor.