Empowering Girls’ Dreams Through STEM Opportunities
For decades, and with too few exceptions, the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have been, unfairly, the province of men.
As a result, there’s a significant gender gap (and lack of racial diversity) that has persisted in these fields and that we still find ourselves trying to correct today.
And the attention in recent years for increasing girls’ representation in STEM fields has yielded some results and now the focus is to provide more STEM opportunities. For instance, as of 2019, women make up half (50%) of those employed in STEM jobs.
However, a closer look reveals that while making gains in health related roles, women are still heavily underrepresented in key STEM occupations (physical sciences, computing and engineering).
This is why the UN General Assembly, in an effort to achieve full access to and participation in science for women and girls, adopted a resolution declaring February 11th as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
This year, progress toward the achievement of sustainable development goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) is the focus as 1 in 3 people globally still don’t have access to clean drinking water.
This #February11, the theme is “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us”. It gives us an opportunity to show how the successes of girl students and alumni of Asante Africa Foundation relate to the UN’s mission.
Current and Past Success Toward Science Education and Sustainable Living
On a daily basis, rural East African families have to navigate the issues of water supply, access and sanitation.
But with the support of local teachers, parents and the community, girls and women are learning to be agents of change. Moreover, programs like Asante Africa’s Wezesha Vijana (Girl’s Advancement), and Accelerated Learning in the Classroom help empower their education, hygiene practices, and strengthened their skills in STEM subjects.
The recent success stories of young women and students highlighted below show the progress being made in education and gender equality.
But the ripple effect of that progress is movement toward the goals the UN set forth to fight food and water scarcity, and raise sanitation/hygiene awareness.
Dreaming of careers in Science
In Uganda, Form 3 girls Noeline, Justine, Sylvia and Agnes are pursuing their science dreams. They are using available lab equipment and additional physics and chemistry textbooks to round out their vocational training and grow their knowledge.
Whether it’s engineering, architecture or chemistry, all four of these young beneficiaries from Asante Africa Foundation look forward to starting their own careers while each actively encourages other students to take on STEM based curriculum.
A Junior Front-End Developer is an Inspiration to Young East African Girls
Bridget’s story is extraordinary, but also common in a way. Her will to succeed as a young teenage mother is surpassed only by her inspiration to help other girls as a result of the life lessons she’s learned. An excellent student who has since graduated and held internships, she is now poised to continue her career as a tech developer.
And who says there’s a limit to a girls’ dreams?!
“I want to lead an exemplary life in my community and give back to them in any way possible. I want to be an activist for positive social change. I want to create a mobile application where farmers can connect…and market their goods at the international level. I also want to create my own tech company one day and create opportunities for many young people like me.”
Enlisting Girls to Close the Technology Gap
Closing in on her Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education which includes a range of farming concerns from biology to technology, Monica looks forward to helping others in her community improve their agricultural production.
In addition to attaining such a valuable degree, Monica is passionate about being an example to other girls in her community. She serves as a positive role model by hosting empowerment forums and sexual reproductive health education sessions.
Magamba School Students Start a Sustainable Aqua Business
Students who witnessed a fish farming project by alumni of Asante Africa’s Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator (LEI) Program were inspired to begin their own fish farming in Tanzania. By reaching out to nearby fish farmers for guidance, they focused on raising tilapia.
As global fish consumption patterns grow (seafood is expected to raise aqua-cultural demand in the next 20 years) it’s important that the tilapia produced in Sub-Saharan Africa is sustainable for the local ecosystem.
This means the students learning this trade of fish farming gives them life skills to compete in a global marketplace but also adds to the viability of their local communities.
Learn how you can get involved
Be the first to know about stories like these and Asante Africa Foundation’s mission to educate kids in rural East Africa. We’ll also keep you up to date on how young girls and women are being empowered through education, STEM subject matter and life skills.
Also, in honor of the International Day of Girls in Science, Women In Tech Africa and WAAW Foundation are other African STEM organizations helping to level the playing field by supporting African girls and women in addition to Africa’s overall growth in tech.
Written By: Christopher Bass