Innovation for the Planet
Feb 3, 2020
The United Nations’ “International Day of Women and Girls in Science” is celebrated on February 11 to acknowledge women and girls worldwide breaking the gender norms in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. It is also a day to bring awareness to the long-standing biases and gender stereotypes that continue to steer women and girls away from science-related fields. Having more female inclusion in STEM fields contributes to the overall goal of gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment. With the current global climate crisis, there is an increasing need to expand the green economy with more opportunities that will preserve the planet and reduce environmental risks within science fields. With the call for more women and girls in science, they can have a leading role in economic growth, social equity, and environmental sustainability.
Asante Africa’s programs support women and girls’ leadership and can serve as a pathway for girls into science. Mercy Mwaura, a 17-year-old form 4 student, completed our Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator (LEI) training and gained the skills and motivation to take action. As an aspiring conservationist, she saw how trees that were cut down for cooking fuel and building purposes affected the rainfall patterns in her community in Maralal, Samburu County, Kenya. To reduce deforestation, Mercy got the idea to create an alternative source of fuel. She partnered with her schoolmate Esther Lenaruti and together, they spent months researching while balancing their schoolwork. The two eventually developed the Solar Tire Cooker that uses old and worn out tyres to absorb heat, and aluminium foil and glass to reflect light. By recycling tires, the cooker discourages cutting down trees and reduces the number of discarded tyres.
Mercy’s family has switched to using the Solar Tire Cooker and she already sees the positive impact the cooker has had in her own home. She is confident that the cooker will reduce deforestation in both her community and the entire country of Kenya in the long run while also encouraging recycling. Mercy and Esther’s ingenious invention provided them with the opportunity to present the prototype at the Sub- County level and also at the National level to President Uhuru Kenyatta! The young leaders were commended for their innovation and environmental investment at their age.
While Mercy is focused on school, she hopes to expand the cooker into a profitable business in the future. She attributes her confidence, leadership skills, and her success to Asante Africa.
“The skills and knowledge Asante Africa empowered us with helps us as young people to push beyond our limits in pursuit of our dream careers. To me, it is important for young people to lead as we still have the energy and uncorrupted minds. When we lead young, we are able to understand the challenges and opportunities and work around them. It also offers us a chance to work for ourselves. I encourage my peers to gain the confidence they need to explore the opportunities around them.”
Visit our page to learn more about how our LEI Program transforms girls into young leaders!
Written by: Genevieve Chan