The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) together with Intel launched the All Africa Girls STEM Competition aimed at enhancing girls' interest, participation and performance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and to help the girls pursue careers in these fields.
The inaugural competition took place in Nairobi from 13th - 14th August 2014 and featured a team of 35 all-female finalists drawn from the 15 African countries where FAWE has presence.
Kenya was among the countries participating in the competition, sending 6 participants to the competition all drawn from Meru County. Other countries participating included Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zanzibar.
Speaking at the event, Intel's Africa Program Director, Suraj Shah, said "The technology sector has recently faced allegations of being a male dominated sector. Partly to blame for the situation is that not many women pick a career path in technology. Intel has chosen to be at the forefront of promoting gender balance and female participation in the technology sector, especially in Africa where technology's contribution to the economy has been growing at a fast pace."
The FAWE Science, Mathematics & Technology (SMT) programme initiated in 2004, is aimed at increasing the participation and performance of girls in Science, Mathematics and Technology subjects in primary and secondary schools in Africa.
The programme is implemented in FAWE's CoEs and in non COEs schools across countries where FAWE has a presence. The collaboration between FAWE and Intel is in line with Intel's "She Will Connect program", which is an innovative combination of digital literacy training, an online peer network, and gender-relevant content.
Through the program, Intel endeavors to work with an ecosystem of partners to close this gap globally, beginning in Africa. Intel created the program as a result of the Women and the Web report in developing countries that showed 25% fewer women were online than men and in Sub-Saharan Africa, the gap rose to 43%.
As a result of this initiative, young women get the opportunity to acquire or improve digital literacy skills and expand their understanding and use of technology so that they can connect to health, government, and educational information, economic opportunities, and gender-specific resources. Consequently, these young women are able to receive better education, enhance their political participation, have a stronger voice in their communities, and increase their income by connecting to new economic opportunities.
This event created a platform for female students to test their creative, technological and innovative minds through the various STEM projects that they initiate, think through, conceptualize, develop and present for competition at school, national and finally Africa regional level.
In addition to bringing together the girls, the event also brought together prominent women professionals and scientists, who will among others, provide mentoring and motivational talks to encourage the young girls through sharing their experiences.
Among these professionals were former FAWE beneficiaries who have made it through their education and will also act as an inspiration to the upcoming Scientist, Mathematicians Engineers and technological experts.
Speaking on the competition Martha Muhwezi, Senior Program Coordinating Officer FAWE Regional Secretariat said "FAWE has been giving incentives and encouraging girls to actively participate in STEM. Initiatives such as the regional competition are a strong incentive for girls in high school where such subjects are commonly perceived as difficult or as male domains. A balanced gender participation in STEMS eventually benefits society by uplifting the economic status of women in the society."