What would the world look like if girls were encouraged to be dreamers, tinkerers and makers? What if female students were truly supported, mentored and nurtured? What if women the world over had the same educational and professional opportunities as men?
Through WeTech, we not only envision this world—we work to actively build it.
In 2013, IIE and its consortium of private sector and NGO partners made a real commitment to creating an employee pipeline of girls and women into the technology sector. Launched as a commitment to action at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, the Women Enhancing Technology program (WeTech) is a set of innovative activities that provides training and builds networks for girls and women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) across the world. For the past three years, WeTech has opened up new life possibilities for young females, preparing them for and connecting them to STEM opportunities. The work is ongoing. But three years in, we pause to take stock of the tremendous impact WeTech has made thus far.
Sixty years ago, after gaining independence from France, Tunisia adopted the most progressive laws supporting women’s rights in the Middle East. The Tunisian Code of Personal Status outlawed polygamy, and gave women equal rights around decisions of marriage, divorce and child custody. Over the years, many have tried in the name of religion and cultural norms to challenge these laws. Most recently, the first draft of Tunisia’s new constitution released in 2012 caused outcry among women and emerging civil society organizations when Article 28 described women’s roles in the family as “complementary” to that of men.
IIE East Asia is pursuing a number of initiatives to support and engage with Greater China’s developing philanthropy sector. In Hong Kong the sector is mature and provides many opportunities for IIE—which has offices in both Hong Kong and Beijing—to support foundation work in throughout China. The philanthropy sector in the mainland is young but growing fast, and IIE is constantly developing new initiatives to address the needs of this burgeoning sector. Our work with the Ford Foundation under the Learning Circles for Chinese Philanthropy program has allowed us to identify a number of areas where we can support the sector drawing on the resources from both our offices. Below, Siusie Hsiao in IIE’s office in Beijing gives an overview of these key areas. We are very grateful to the Ford Foundation for supporting our work in this area. In due course we will also provide a view from Hong Kong showing how efforts across the region can be harmonized.
Zina Ammar grew up in Gafsa, Tunisia, where she learned how to make the region’s famous Margoum carpets from the women in her family. Zina eventually started her own carpet-making business, but her lack of confidence and business skills limited her success. Hoping to grow her business, Zina enrolled in Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Financial Education trainings at the Women's Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) Center for Women’s Business Development in her community.
When the seeds of modern democratic governance were first taking root in the world, a story was circulated about an individual who approached Benjamin Franklin in 1787 outside of Independence Hall at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention. She asked Franklin whether he and his colleagues had created a monarchy or a republic. In reply he told her that the United States would be a “republic, if you can keep it.”
In most higher education discourse today it is not unusual to hear the claim that the world’s center of gravity is shifting toward the East. Indeed, no region has undergone as profound a transformation as Asia during the past half-century, from the 1970s to the present. Unprecedented economic growth has driven major social and demographic change and institutional reform and, in most countries, has brought about greater stability. The advent of a large middle class, coupled with openness and market reforms driven by economic imperatives, has contributed to greater interconnectedness among Asian states and between them and the rest of the world.
At the end of this month 100 HER girls in Ethiopia from Addis Ketema and Fittawarari will graduate from high school. We are proud of their accomplishments and excited about their futures! IIE is now raising funds to assist with their transition to university, and we invite you to lend your support by making a donation by June 15.
When we first traveled to Myanmar two years ago, there was little to no Wi-Fi, few mobile phones (SIM cards could only be obtained by lottery and cost around $1,500 each, making it unaffordable for most), no ATM machines or credit card usage, and frequent electricity outages. Fast forward just two years: consistent access to Wi-Fi, excellent 3G, and little need to bring stacks of cash anymore (credit cards are now accepted at most hotels). The arrival of telecom providers TeleNor and Oredoo has reduced the price of SIM cards to $1.50 resulting in a reported 30%+ market penetration of cell phones. Electricity outages are still common, and traffic in Yangon is worse than ever, but major change is palpable everywhere, and ATMs and 3G are just the more visible manifestations of this extraordinary transition.
In the five plus years I have worked at IIE, the term “workforce development” has become a more stable part of international higher education lingo. Although the concept of workforce development has been around for a long time, it has recently gained prominence in the field based on several factors in the ever-evolving state of the global economy. Here is what I have learned about the impact of international education on global workforce development.
As part of IIE's Higher Education Readiness (HER) program, which provides young women in secondary school from underserved communities with a pathway to university, our team in the Addis Ababa office is organizing inspirational speakers to meet with the girls several times each semester. The speakers are Ethiopian women who have, despite challenges in their lives, become leaders in their field. The speakers are wonderful examples for the girls on what they can become if they focus, stay in school, and follow their dreams.