Change occurs after people take action, and action occurs when people are inspired. I love to be inspired. Who doesn’t? When I’m inspired, I feel an almost physical response—suddenly my day looks brighter, my life seems more exciting, my dreams more attainable, and those around me appear as potential partners with whom I want to share the thrill, build momentum, and take action. So, I ask myself “How and when am I most inspired?” If I can figure it out, I can share it with more people, and keep the inspiration buzz going and growing.
The percentage of girls admitted each year to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology has been falling. The Joint Entrance Exam 2012 report states that the percentage of girls admitted has decreased from 9.9 in 2011 to 9.7 in 2012. My previous post, Introducing the Girls’ STEM Education Program in India, explains a few of the causes and our endeavors to break those barriers. In continuation of the needs assessment plan for the pilot program to be launched in Southern India, the IIE team set out for another site visit in December 2013.
The IIE Addis Ababa office held an award ceremony at Fitawrari and Addis Ketema schools to celebrate the final selection of the Higher Education Readiness (HER) recipients. The 100 girls had successfully completed this past spring’s tutoring sessions, attended and did well in the summer enrichment activities including English language training and leadership and life skills development, and scored well enough on the Ethiopian National Exam to proceed directly to the 11th grade academic track. Congratulations to all of the HER recipients! We are very proud of you and look forward to working with you over the coming two years.
While the literacy rate among girls is getting better gradually, the gender gap still continues and when it comes to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, girls are significantly underrepresented in most parts of India. Various factors are responsible for this disparity, such as differential socialization of men and women, impaired self-confidence and expectations regarding the impact of children on women's academic careers. Parents may not want to spend money for their daughters, or do not want to send their daughters to faraway places for safety concerns. The roots of this problem in India lie in the different gender experiences of boys and girls. As young girls and women, females are socialized to seek help and be help givers rather than to be self-reliant or to function autonomously or competitively, as are boys.
At the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting this week, Khalida Brohi spoke on a plenary panel literally filled with rock stars including President Clinton, Christine Lagarde, Mo Ibrahim, Sheryl Sandberg and Bono, but Khalida shone brightest of all. Bono, at one point, interrupted her with a gasp and said “Khalida, you are awesome.” He is right. Khalida spoke about her work fighting to end honor killings in Pakistan, and of the many times she cried growing up as she witnessed tragedies unfolding around her. She spoke of her father, who dried her tears and said, “My dear, do not cry. Strategize.”
This summer has been a busy but exciting one for the girls in IIE’s Higher Education Readiness (HER) program. After IIE "trained the trainers," which I detailed in my previous blog, this summer we have focused on working with the girls on leadership and life skills development and English language training.
In my senior year of college, I watched as most of my friends frantically faxed their CVs off and checked their answering machines for messages about interviews. People asked me, ‘Why are you so calm?’ I was not rushing about, because I already knew: I was going to Africa. We all have a place where we feel ourselves, a place to which we are drawn, and most of the time there is just no explaining it. My mom believes she was Native American in another life and feels most at home in New Mexico. My dad—an Irish-American through and through—cycles, speaks and drinks cappuccino like a native Italian. I first came to truly know myself sitting under a thorn tree in Namibia.
The HER scholarship recipients have been busy this past month with a summer full of English language and leadership development trainings. IIE was excited to get so much interest from local professionals to be trainers in the leadership development skill building sessions. In order to make sure that all the professionals were leading similar sessions and addressing all topics required, IIE held several “train the trainer” this past June at our Addis Ababa office.
The IIE Higher Education Readiness (HER) scholarship recipients have been busy these past two months studying for the National Exam, which was held a few weeks ago. The grades for the Exam will not be released until late summer, but we are hopeful that all of the HER students will do well and will enter the 11th grade as a university track student.