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