Working to Advance African Women


WAAW Foundation students
Photo via WAAW Foundation

Many people believe we need more girls in subjects like Science and Mathematics. Liz Waid and Colin Lowther tell about an organization that helps Women in Africa succeed in STEM jobs.

Watch Video


Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Taiwo Olayemi Elufioye is from Nigeria. In her country, she is an unusual woman. Half of women in Nigeria cannot read or write. But Elufioye has a very high level of education. Something else also makes her unusual. Elufioye is educated in the field of science. Elufioye is a chemist. She researches Nigerian plants. Through her work, she discovers possible new medicines. Elufioye hopes to use Nigerian plants to treat diseases such as malaria and cancer.

Voice 2 

In 2014, Elufioye won an award from the Elsevier Foundation. The Elsevier Foundation works to get more women into STEM jobs. The term STEM comes from the first letter of the words Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM jobs are very important in our world. Many people think that the world would be a better place if more women worked in STEM jobs.

Voice 1 

Today's Spotlight is on another organization that works to help women in STEM careers. It is called Working to Advance African Women, or WAAW. WAAW wants to give girls like Taiwo Olayemi Elufioye a chance to succeed in STEM jobs.

Voice 2 

The founder of WAAW is a Nigerian woman named Unoma Okorafor. Okorafor started WAAW in 2007. At the time she was studying for her doctoral degree in computer and electrical engineering. Okorafor strongly believed that women can help make the communities in Africa better. She wanted to give women more power. She told the Daily Independent in Nigeria,

Voice 3 

"I feel very deeply about increasing female education. We all know that if you empower a girl, you empower a community. If you educate a girl, you educate a nation."

Voice 1 

The United Nations and the World Bank have studied women, education, and jobs. They found that women give 90 percent of the money they earn back into their community. And Okorafor believes that STEM jobs are the jobs of the future. Every year, more and more jobs are opening up in STEM fields. But around the world, fewer and fewer women are working in STEM jobs. Okorafor told The Guardian newspaper,

Voice 3 

"We need more women in science. Over 50% of the world is women. We want to make sure that girls think of science and technology as tools. Tools that will help them build real problem-solving in their communities."

Voice 2 

The WAAW organization uses three main ways to get more women in Africa into STEM careers: STEM camps, STEM cells, and STEM scholarships.

Voice 1 

STEM camps are for girls between the ages of 13 and 17. Ebele Agu is the Executive Director of WAAW. She told the news website New Telegraph,

Voice 4 

"We feel that this is the age where girls are making important choices about their jobs and careers. This is when we can have a lasting influence on the girls. We can also help them form relationships that will last throughout their careers."

Voice 2 

The camps happen every year, and they last for one week. WAAW targets girls from public schools. These girls have poor families. But the girls also show high skill levels in science. WAAW pays for them to attend the camps, by giving them financial scholarships. These girls probably would not develop STEM careers on their own.

Voice 1 

The STEM camp leaders ask girls about issues in their communities. Then they study scientific solutions to every-day problems. The camps look at things like traffic control technology, wind electricity, sun-powered cars, and waste removal. The girls learn about robotics and computer technology. Through this, they discover tools to change the situations around them. Okorafor told The Daily Independent,

Voice 3 

"We believe that these girls are more intelligent than many people believe and think. They can do so much more. We even give them university level material. We teach them as if they are university students. We teach them as if they are the ones who would go out and solve the problems."

Voice 2 

WAAW designs the camps to encourage girls to attend university. They also make room for fun activities, just like university. They include parties, swimming, sports, and films. They want the girls to experience what it is like to live at a university.

Voice 1 

Many of the girls do go to university. When they are there, they can lead STEM cells. These cells are the second main way that WAAW encourages women in STEM jobs. A STEM cell is a group of university students who reach out to girls in high school. The purpose is to encourage and train the girls to help them attend university in STEM subjects. WAAW has cells in nine different African countries. The cells started in 2013. And they have already affected 6,000 girls across Africa.

Voice 2 

The WAAW organization also gives scholarships to help girls study. These scholarships pay for the girls’ educations. When the girls are finished with their educations, WAAW hopes that the girls will help their home communities.

Voice 1 

WAAW believes that Africans can use local resources to improve their communities. And they want Africans to design ways to use STEM tools. Okorafor told the news website The Nation Online,

Voice 3 

"It is important that we Africans understand that we are the ones to help ourselves. Education is the key. Education is what empowers people. And technology is the fastest way to make our economy grow. If we want to be part of the global economy of the world, we have to decide to jump in. We cannot just use technology. We also have to create it and change it. That is important."

Voice 2 

WAAW thinks that women can be important for making change in Africa. Other organizations and governments around the world agree. Some of these give women more resources and training. For example, in India, the Anita Borg Institute gives job training tools to female engineering students.

Voice 1 

Other organizations encourage women by rewarding their work in STEM areas. Awards from places like the Elsevier Foundation help women. They tell the world about women like Taiwo Olayemi Elufioye. This supports other women in STEM jobs. It also encourages girls to work towards doing STEM jobs in the future.

Voice 2 

Do you know any women scientists? Do women in your country study STEM subjects? If so, do they get STEM jobs when they leave university? Do you think it is more difficult for women to work in science and technology in your country? Tell us what you think. You can leave your comments on our website.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Working to Advance African Women."

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

(Get our app for Android or for Apple devices. Let us know how you like it and write a review!)

Question:

What is the best way to encourage girls to study subjects like Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on March 27, 2015

Science and technology serve the life. We wish the life to develop in all sides. We together develop all the life’s sides. We wish our world to develop in all sides. We together develop all our world’s sides. A problem has its solutions. We together solve problems. We together care for the life. We wish beautiful good things. Each of us has our abilities. We make the life beautiful. We contribute to develop all the life’s sides. The life needs everyone’s contribution. Our contribution brings us great honour.

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on May 11, 2018

Men have the power to develop world in so much aspects that is incomprehensible to encounter hungry and sickness nowadays.

Avatar Spotlight
RyanNguyen
said on November 13, 2018

A modern life now cannot insufficient the technology. All of the things we use are used in innovation science. All people around the world can use it, both of man and woman.
When I was a student, my class had many intelligence students, and half of all is the girl. They even studied very well in Math, Chemistry, Physic,... It is demonstrated that the girl can become a Mathertic, or researcher of science. In the developing life, no matter what us your sex, what we need is your abilities, your interesting and indulge of science. Go forward and courage, the girl.

Avatar Spotlight
Abd alwahed Brima
said on November 16, 2018

nice topic