The U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda, Erica J. Barks-Ruggles, has encouraged Rwandan girls to pursue careers in science fields.
She was on Thursday visiting 120 young Rwandan women who recently completed a mentoring programme designed to encourage them to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
The project included students from six secondary schools across the country and was implemented by Her2Voice, an organisation composed of alumni of the U.S. government’s techwomen exchange programme.
The US envoy presented certificates to the young women and encouraged them to continue seeking opportunities to learn about STEM and to support each other.
“All of us are here today because we believe in the power of girls and women to transform their communities. We are here because we believe that when young women receive better education and increased opportunities, all of society benefits,” she said.
“All of you students here have the chance to be trailblazers, leading the way for other girls and women in your communities who want to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, or maths. You have the power to make this world a better place – to make new discoveries and invent new solutions to the problems we face.”
She asked the girls to see the programme they undertook as just the beginning.
“When you return to your schools, keep seeking out mentors in science and technology, keep asking your teachers to support your tech clubs, and, above all, keep looking for opportunities to help each other learn,” she said.
He told the girls that their role was not new since they were joining a long line of women stretching back over a century who have blazed the path for them in maths, science, technology and engineering.
“Reach high, challenge yourselves, and support each other. Don’t give up – do not ever let anyone tell you science is not for girls, or maths is too hard. I am confident you will do great things in Rwanda and around the world. Again, congratulations to all of you – I can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the future. “
Speaking during the ceremony, Lydia Mitali, in charge of girls’ education at the Ministry of Education affirmed government commitment to girls’ empowerment.
“The world understood and has started to reasonably empower girls in one way or another. For our country, we are really committed to girl-child development and women empowerment, particularly encouraging girls to take part in science subjects through such kind of mentorships,” Mitali noted.
During the closing ceremony in Nyarutarama, students from different schools presented their projects and outstanding girls were awarded.
At least 15 projects under electronics and computer science categories were presented by six schools and two best projects were awarded.
An online price market project by G.S Notre Dame d’Afrique, was the best project in the computer science category followed by ‘My menstrual day mobile application’ that was developed by St Emmanuel School from Kabuga.
While the motion sensing circuit, which was presented by IPRC-East, won in electronics category, followed by the Watchome project by G.S Byimana.
Lina Carene Ishimwe, who presented ‘My menstrual day’, a mobile application that reminds girls about their menstruation cycle, especially those who tend forget and those with irregular days, said the mentorship was helpful and inspiring.
“It was an important idea to give us such kind of mentorship, we learnt a lot and we were very inspired. We feel like we are ready to even compete with boys even at the international level. The misconception that girls used to have is because they never had role models and people to inspire and encourage them,” she noted.