It is no doubt that women contribute majorly to the socio-economic development and prosperity of a Nation. In Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA Nations, Girls face multiple challenges that compromise their education opportunities. One area of longstanding concern is the low rate of female participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEMi) education and consequently STEM careers. Girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women.
To commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child, we hosted a Project Kuongoza Web Conference to encourage girls to LEAD and SUCCEED in their STEM Career and academics, therefore, defiling all cultural stereotypes and existing challenges. The event had Bianca Cefalo, a Rocket Scientist who has spent nearly a decade between Germany and the UK, driving space thermal technologies developments and contributing to the delivery of multiple commercial science missions sponsored by NASA, ESA, DLR, UKSA and EU – including the HP3 instrument embarked on the NASA/JPL InSight Mars Mission; Stephanie Okeyo (Kenya), the Founder of Under the Microscope, a Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) Ambassador for Women in Science, East Africa and the representative to the United Nations Office, Geneva; Mervin Azeta (Nigeria/Congo), a Product & Service Delivery Manager with Schlumberger; Mehiret Walga (Ethiopia), the Country Curator for STEMi Makers Africa, Ethiopia, Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Addis Ababa University Institute of Technology and Co- Founder of Abugida Robotics Technology center and 66 participants that were in attendance on Saturday.
The Project Kuongoza conference was to inspire girls from all the Speakers shared stories, the break-out interactive sessions and the Q & A session. We believe every girl should Be Free to dream. Be free to Lead and Be free to Succeed.
The event was also a wake-up that there is room to do more in raising young women and girls who can serve as role-models and mentors. We are planning ahead not to leave the younger generation feeling displaced and inheriting a more fragmented and disconnected world than we live in today. Feedback has been dropping in and so delighted we addressed these challenges.
I am so thankful to our Speakers who did so well to further share resource tools and opportunities that girls can explore alongside my team who designed a laudable program.