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Education and Mentorship is the key to female empowerment

It has been a while since I submitted a jounal entry, and I thought it was high time I changed that. An interesting virtual conference is happening at the moment with 13000 people globally logging in to comment on various social issues. Two issues very close to my heart in empowering women and girls, and the other is increasing participation in science and technology. I have reposted my blog on SAWomEng - my organisation which empowers women to study engineering, and what we have found to be the most crucial aspect of our work. Hope you find it an interesting read.

I am co-founder of South African Women in Engineering (SAWomEng). An NPO in South Africa focussing on education, empowerment, motivating and celebrating women in the engineering environement. Women in engineering are a definite minority, in a very male dominated field. Engineering is such a crucial area of study, as issues such as water, sanitation, and development relies so heavily on engineers.

We realised that the barrier to entry for female students, was firstly lack of knowledge of the careers in engineering. The second was positive female role models and a lack of access to funding for study at tertiary education. Our approach has been to educate female students about engineering, provide them with mentors, and access to funding. Our program has yielded many positive results, especially amongst female students in rural and disadvantaged communities in South Africa. What we actually do is provide a platform for young women. That is what is really needed today. We need to ensure ... that our young girls are educated, mentored and have access to opportunities, be it in engineering or anything else.

At SAWomEng we work on the pay it forward principle. Our GirlEng program promotes science, maths & engineering to high school students. These students are provided with mentors-who are university students. In turn, the university students are provided with mentors, who are female engineers in industry. We also have created a platform to showcase technical brilliance and innovative thinking - by giving a social problem to our university students, and them having to find an engineering solution. They then implement these projects in informal settlements, thereby empowering not only themselves but the community itself.

What we as women need to do is to encourage education and mentor young girls, so that they grow up to be strong women in their communities


JaniceW's picture

Welcome back

What an inspiring program you are providing for the young girls of South Africa. I invite you to join the Math Support Group which provides a space for anyone dedicated to encouraging girls to pursue their interests in the fields of physics, mathematics and science. You can find the group by clicking on the link below. We would also invite your students to join, and start a dialogue with like-minded young girls around the world.

I look forward to reading more from you about your innovative and inspiring programs. Best wishes,
World Pulse

jadefrank's picture


Hi Naadiya,

We are so happy that you are sharing your voice with us again! Are you taking part in Global Pulse? How has that experience been for you?

I am inspired by the work you're doing to educate and empower young women in South Africa. My grandmother is a civil engineer, as was my grandfather. They met in university in the 1930's and my grandmother was the first woman to graduate from the University of Alaska with a degree in civil engineering. She has been an inspiration and mentor for me, and has taught me that women know no boundaries if they demand equal opportunities and push societal norms.

I hope that you will continue to share your work and ideas with us here on PulseWire!

Warm regards,

naadiya's picture

Global Pulse

Hi Jade and Janice

Wow Jade- your grandmother sounds cool..civil engineers are awesome ;) It was definitely harder for her in the 30s than it is today, I am sure she is an amazing mentor and role model. I love hearing stories such as these, and inviting these women to share their stories on our various forums. It is truly inspiring to our students.

Global pulse has been interesting - I really enjoyed sharing my story and listening to what others had to say (more like write), but I cant help but feel a bit detached from everyone. I think perhaps a live chatroom environment could have been more engaging. I am interested to see what are the outcomes from this event.

Janice -I joined the maths group - we have a lot of experience promoting engineering to high school students and preparing our next phase of intervention, which will include maths, science and skills development to the students on our program

Looking forward to connecting in cyber space

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