STEM QUEENS: A platform for African girls and women in STEM

For any economy to thrive and develop, it is imperative to ensure full participation of all pools of talents. For many years, increasing women’s participation in employment has been argued as a matter of equality and the ‘right’ thing to do to create sustainability in any country. Today, women’s full participation in employment is argued on the basis of economics and increasing opportunities for women in STEM is essential to any economy and to achieve gender equality. We must ensure that the STEM workforce grows and becomes sustainable by implicating the biggest pool of largely underutilized talent: women!

By attracting and retaining more women in the STEM workforce we will maximize innovation, creativity, and competitiveness which are key enablers for sustainable development. We also know that companies operating with gender-balance actually enhance their innovation and gain a competitive advantage.

There has never been a more powerful time to be bold and take action to ensure that women and girls are at the forefront of this fourth industrial revolution dominated by technology and digitisation. Outdated stereotypes about women’s professions must not be a barrier to women or girls achieving high level and highly technical professional roles in this new work future anymore.

We most importantly believe that increasing the representation of women in STEM fields through ongoing efforts to train and sponsor girls and women in underprivileged communities will help break the poverty cycle, address gender inequality issues, empower women and create economic growth in those countries. The significance of mentorship is undeniably important if we are to bring women into STEM. It is with this mindset that oil, gas and energy executive, Award winning entrepreneur and managing director of the Australia based consultant company MT Energy Resources Ltd, Mireille Toulekima and woman Pilot, philanthropist, global goodwill ambassador and managing director of Bambino life foundation Ashaba Faridah launched the STEM QUEENS program in Uganda.

The STEM QUEENS program is part of the Energy Angels project. Energy Angels is a partnership between Australian company MT Energy Resources Ltd and the Ugandan non-profit organization Bambino Life foundation.  It is an innovative program involving women who are breaking barriers in Sciences Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) which provide mentorship and coaching to girls in school and create awareness for women in STEMs sectors. The program is also looking at providing STEM scholarships and financial aid for science projects. In Uganda, the focus is on girls from upper secondary to university level.

The Energy Angels project is meant for girls and women in the STEM industry, its main objective is to help African women achieve their fullest potential and participate in the African STEM economy. As part of the Energy Angels project, we work with schools and universities worldwide, oil, gas and energy companies, international business communities, governmental organisations, social and STEM entrepreneurs, Energy and STEM global champions, corporates and global business leaders to create access to local and international sponsorship, mentorship and coaching, training and learning opportunities, investors, procurement opportunities to the girls and women in need. By increasing the representation of girls and women in STEM fields through ongoing efforts to train and sponsor them, we hope to help break the poverty cycle, address gender inequality issues, empower women and create economic growth. In our effort, we are trying to reach the following United Nations Sustainable development goals: eliminate poverty, provide quality education, promote gender equality, decent work and economic growth.

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Mireille Toulekima

Mireille Toulekima is a renowned expert in oil and gas investment accross emerging and developing markets, with expertise in developing fit-for- purpose content policies, strategy and processes, combined with vast technical experience in oil and gas project management and execution

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