2023 in Review: Providing opportunities for African women in STEM
2023 has been a memorable year for WAAW Foundation. As we reflect on the past 12 months, it’s remarkable to see the progress we’ve made in advancing STEM education for African women and girls.
As much as we encountered challenges and limitations and faced uncertainties, we remained focused on our mission of empowering and providing opportunities for young African women through technology and education. Now, as 2023 draws to a close, we have so much to celebrate.
This year brought new partnerships, groundbreaking programs, increased testimonials, and inspiring stories from our WAAW community. We expanded our outreach across Africa to support and uplift even more girls. None of this would have been possible without the dedicated efforts of our team, volunteers, partners, and donors. You have helped transform lives through the power of STEM.
As we look ahead to 2024, we feel renewed energy and enthusiasm. The future is bright for WAAW. Join us as we reflect on the standout moments and accomplishments that made 2023 so remarkable. We have come so far, but our real work is just getting started.
How Do We Provide Opportunities for Women in STEM?
The Woking to Advance STEM Education for African Women (WAAW) Foundation was founded in 2007 with the mission to empower African women and girls through STEM education, empowerment, and the provision of opportunities.
The WAAW Foundation aims to empower and inspire girls to pursue opportunities in STEM fields through a variety of programs and initiatives. Some of the foundation’s key goals include:
- providing scholarships and mentoring to enable African girls to pursue STEM education.
- running coding camps and workshops to spark an early interest in technology and computing.
- Partnering with organizations to enhance access to quality STEM education for girls.
- advocating for gender equality and women’s leadership in STEM globally.
- celebrating role models and outstanding achievements of women in STEM fields.
Over the past decade, WAAW has made tremendous strides toward achieving these goals and expanding opportunities for African girls and women in STEM.
2023 was a year of major growth and exciting developments for the WAAW Foundation. Here are some of the key milestones from this year:
- 2023 Fellows CapeTown Summit: In January, we held our annual fellows summit in Cape Town, South Africa. This was a value-packed, exciting, interesting, and fun educational camping program that had a lot of fellows in attendance. During the summit, fellows learned about various exciting STEM programs and collaborated on projects. They also had the opportunity to listen to notable speakers who spoke on interesting topics. Over 20 fellows participated and went home to teach others who were not in the program. Thanks to our sponsors; Herbal Goodness, WYZ Create, Micron, NICIS, and McKinney East, whose support made the program successful.
- STEM Teacher Training: In August, we held a 5-day physical STEM teacher training in Asaba, Delta State. This training was designed to equip science teachers with the skills and novel techniques and approaches to teach their subjects in their various schools. With over 25 teachers in attendance, the training was a huge success.
- Partnership with over 10 Organizations: We formed partnerships with 5 leading organizations across Africa, including Vemoye Foundation UK, Collins Aerospace UK, Black Sisters in STEM, African Science Academy, Ghana, Edo State Ministry of Digital Economy, etc., to offer scholarships, mentoring, and internship opportunities for our college fellows.
- 2023/2024 Undergraduate Scholarship Application: This year, as we’ve always done, we opened applications for girls in various tertiary institutions across Africa studying STEM courses to stand a chance to be awarded a $500 scholarship to cover tuition, schooling expenses, accommodation, and other miscellaneous expenses to study their STEM subjects comfortably.
Our STEM Outreach Programs and Mentoring Opportunities
2023 saw the successful continuation of our college-to-secondary school outreach programs, usually conducted by our college fellows and scholars. The WAAW Foundation’s College to Secondary School STEM Outreach Programs are initiatives designed to bridge the gap between college-level STEM education and secondary school students. These programs aim to inspire, educate, and encourage younger students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). By leveraging the expertise of college-level STEM participants, these outreach programs create a mentorship and knowledge-sharing platform that fosters enthusiasm for STEM fields.
And again, the WAAW mentorship program saw a remarkable impact on the mentees. This program further skyrocketed this year, with over 100 college fellows mentored by experienced professionals in STEM.
By making STEM education accessible and engaging for girls, WAAW is helping develop the next generation of female innovators and leaders in science and technology fields across Africa. Our programs reached over 1,300 students this year, and we aim to expand our impact even further in 2023.
WAAW’s work supporting STEM education for African women and girls is about far more than just providing scholarships and financial assistance. It’s about empowering these brilliant young minds to pursue their dreams and change the world. Throughout this year, we’ve been fortunate enough to see the real-life impact of our programs through the incredible personal stories of the young women involved.
For instance, there’s Nolwazi Khulu, who dreams of becoming an [aerospace engineer]. Nolwazi has always been passionate about STEM and building a solution to one of Africa’s problems. This year, she participated in the WAAW mobile app competition and won $75. This is a milestone for her in her career path since she developed a solution and was awarded a prize. (This is what Nolwazi said after she won the competition).
Then there’s Evelyn Falaye, who is studying to become a pharmacist. Evelyn is also passionate about STEM education and inspiring young girls. She grew up in a family of four. At first, it was difficult for Evelyn’s family to cater to her educational needs, but after she got the WAAW Foundation scholarship, she’s comfortably studying pharmacy at one of the reputable universities in Nigeria.
These are just two of the hundreds of inspiring stories from this year. Each woman has her own unique journey, challenges, and triumphs. However, they all exemplify the incredible courage, determination, and brilliance of the young women in WAAW’s programs. Their stories motivate us to continue this important work and demonstrate the tremendous impact supporting African women in STEM can have—not just for the individual but for their communities and the future of science and technology. We cannot wait to see all that these amazing women will accomplish in the years ahead!
Our Future: Providing Opportunities for African women in STEM
As we reflect on the accomplishments of 2023, we are even more excited about what 2024 has in store for us. Though we have made great strides in advancing STEM education for African women and girls, there is still much work to be done.
In 2023, we plan to expand our programs to reach even more students across sub-Saharan Africa. We hope to launch new STEM workshops focused on computer science, engineering, and technology. These workshops will empower young women with critical skills and inspire them to become leaders in technological fields.
We also aim to grow our network of partners, providing scholarships and internship opportunities to exemplary STEM students. By supporting women throughout their academic journeys, we can help pave the way for future scientists, programmers, and innovators.
Fundraising will be a top priority as well, as we develop new campaigns and tap into fresh sources of funding. Donations make our work possible, and we are committed to building connections with donors who share our mission.
Most importantly, we will continue shining a light on the brilliant African girls pursuing STEM degrees against all odds. We want to showcase their tenacity and brilliance to the world.
2024 stands to be a groundbreaking year for the WAAW Foundation as we drive forward progress for women and girls in STEM. We have bold plans, but we know that with the passion of our team and supporters, we can achieve anything. The future looks bright, and we can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.
We could not have accomplished so much this past year without the dedication and support of so many people. Our donors, partners, staff, and volunteers made WAAW’s mission possible.
To our partners and donors, including local schools, universities, businesses, and nonprofits, we appreciate you collaborating with us. By working together, we expanded our reach and impact. We look forward to continuing these relationships and forging new ones in the coming year. Our volunteers, too, graciously give their time and skills to directly help women in their communities. Thank you for your passion and dedication to our mission.
We are humbled and grateful for everyone who contributed to making this year such a success for WAAW. Your faith in our cause motivates us to empower even more women and girls moving forward.
Let’s make the next year our most groundbreaking one yet! Please consider getting involved or donating if you aren’t already. Together, we can transform these young lives.