2016 was another remarkable year for WAAW Foundation. This year, our vision became even clearer, and we moved purposefully towards achieving significant progress towards building a movement to empower women and girls across the African continent in STEM. We believe in the potential of African women to use Technology to transform Africa and indeed the world!
In 2016, we have maintained our tradition of financial transparency, and ensuring that over 85% of our donor funds go directly to program execution and impacting the girls we serve. Despite limited funds, we stretched to accomplish programs far beyond our dreams and impacted thousands of girls across Africa.
This year saw the launch and equipping of both our offices in Lagos and Abuja Nigeria with computers and training material so that we can better reach our target audience and increase our programming. This has helped us implement several weekend and after school training programs without constantly seeking a space to train. What a blessing! In 2016, WAAW Foundation spun off the AWELE Academy – A software training institute for students who are ready to explore careers in Software programming. The AWELE Academy is as a result of the need we see to fill the gap for our University Fellows who are graduating from college with less than adequate skills to enter the job market or pursue entrepreneurial activities in STEM and software development careers. In addition to hosting our first ever summer camp at the Aduvie International School in Abuja Nigeria, which impacted over 40 girls, we launched our first ever STEM Secondary Teacher training program which trained 15 secondary school teachers in pedagogy skills, curriculum development and hands on STEM exercises.
Our Scholarship program has continued to attract large numbers of, and high quality application. This year, with over 900 applications from 17 countries WAAW provided 4 scholarships to University Girls in STEM courses across Africa. WAAW has also continue to enjoy steady progress and see amazing results with our STEM College-to-Secondary mentoring program now available in 17 Universities across 11 African countries. I am always amazed and humbled by the work our College fellows are doing to empower secondary girls within their communities, given the very limited resources we are able to provide to them. It strengthens my faith in the resilience of the Africa woman.
An over-arching strategy we have identified in WAAW, and which we will pursue aggressively in the future is the need for increased partnerships to leverage synergies, increase impact and scale rapidly amongst civil society organizations working in this space. Sub-Saharan Africa with the largest population of young people in the world would benefit from organizations like ours working together to accomplish ambitious goals, rather than existing in silos. This is a call WAAW foundation will take up in the coming years, acting as a facilitator to ensure better collaborations. We invite all who are excited by this call to join us!
This 2016 year was beautifully crowned by the honor and privilege of WAAW Foundation being named the 2016 winner of the GEM Tech Awards. Jointly organized by ITU, the UN agency for ICTs, and UN Women, the GEM-TECH Awards recognize the unique power of information communication technologies (ICTs) to empower women and girls worldwide and achieve gender equality, which is #5 among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals world leaders agreed to in 2015. The awards were presented by ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao and UN Women Deputy Regional Director, Asia and the Pacific, Anna-Karin Jatfors, UN Women. I was extremely humbled to receive this award on behalf of all of us at WAAW and all who support our work.
While we pause to celebrate our achievements in 2016, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. With the 2017 year already started well, I am very confident that WAAW Foundation is well poised to reach higher for the stars and achieve even greater heights towards our vision. The work that lies ahead of us is greater than what is behind us. We have never been deterred by the ambitious goals because we are confident that victory is assured. I could not be more proud of the work we are doing at WAAW Foundation. Indeed the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step! Together we look forward into the new year with excitement, and together we pay tribute to the spirit of hard work and resilience of African girls everywhere.
I would like to express my profound gratitude to those who have stood by us to make this vision a reality. Our partners, funders, donors and especially to the amazing WAAW Foundation Team – Staff, volunteers, mentors and fellows. Let us never forget that our lives are inextricably tied to the lives of the girls we serve. We rise and fall together…. But Rise we must!!!
“Africa is Rising”
“African Women Will Help Solve Africa’s Challenges Through STEM!”
Let us not forget that if we light someone else’s candle, it does not diminish our own light. Instead it makes the room brighter. I wish you all love, peace, the strength of deep convictions and the exhilaration of walking your unique life’s journey this year! Thank you! Onward ever!
Unoma Okorafor, Ph.D.
President & Chief Executive Officer
WAAW Foundation – Working to Advance STEM Education for African Women.