Microsoft Egypt has launched a female empowerment campaign dubbed #MakeWhatsNext designed to encourage young females to consider careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related industries.
As part of the initiative, Microsoft Egypt has teamed up with various government and non-government entities from around the globe to organize a series of events and training programs across the country, with the aim of equipping young women between the ages of 12 to 35 with the skills and confidence necessary to take up a career in STEM fields.
Microsoft acknowledges that gender disparity in these fields is a pervasive and multi-faceted problem, and talented girls who lack positive role models in STEM positions or lack access to strong curricula or afterschool support are often lost to the industry.
Commenting on the initiative, Khaled Abd El Kader, Microsoft Egypt General Manager, said: “At Microsoft, we see it as our duty to inspire young women to capture the immense potential that lies in STEM, which is why the “#MakeWhatsNext” campaign has been devised to show young women this is a viable industry for them.
We are very excited to be partnering with globally recognized NGOs as well as the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports and Ministry of Information Technology and Communication in order to bring these beliefs to life in a tangible way for young Egyptian women from across the nation. We look forward to inspiring, encouraging, and educating the next generation of female leaders.”
As part of the campaign, Microsoft Egypt organized a special event to encourage young women by teaming up with the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Together they hosted a 5-day training session in 43 youth centers across 26 governorates.
Over 1,000 young girls benefited from the sessions, which included hands-on professional training using the latest Microsoft technologies to perform essential jobs tasks, such as e-mail and report writing, negotiation, and the principles of financial management.
Microsoft Egypt also partnered with the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication to host a five-day educational seminar at five selected NGO offices across Egypt. The sessions positively impacted about 200 girls, with trainings carried out in soft skills, digital literacy, and an “Hour of Code” session. The goal of these sessions was to arm them with the basic skills required to take their first steps on a STEM-related career path.
Eng. Khalid Abdul Aziz, Minister of Youth and Sports, stressed the Ministry is keen on prioritizing Women Empowerment programs in the ICT sector, encouraging more Egyptian female entrepreneurs to work in this field.
The implementation of Women Empowerment programs and initiatives in the ICT sector is a key factor to their empowerment and a fruitful step to enhance their constructive participation in all areas of Egypt’s development plans. He added: “The Ministry is implementing many activities that support the participation of young women and enhance their skills in technology in cooperation with Microsoft, as well as expanding the participation of women in the business sector that depends mainly on technological skills.
#MakeWhatsNext is one of these activities, and it aims to develop the skills of more than 100,000 young women, with a target to reach up to 10 million women and families. The initiative works to create an integrated environment to empower and encourage girls to pursuit careers in ICT.”
Another training session was organized in partnership with the TechWomen Program, which specializes in mentoring young ladies and exposing them to international STEM careers. The event brought together 15 female executives who hold leading positions in Silicon Valley organizations such as LinkedIn, NASA, Stanford Investment, Mozilla, and Twitter for the first time in Egypt.
The one-day event hosted 100 Egyptian young women professionals and entrepreneurs in the STEM fields and carried out seminars on female resilience, leadership, and business pitching.
Huda Dahrouj, Country Director of the Egyptian ICT Fund, stated that this cooperation emphasizes the importance of women’s technological empowerment, as a powerful tool that helps women change their lives and participate in the decision-making process.
She also stressed the Ministry’s continuous efforts to provide technological tools and to reach women all over the country through cooperation with the civil society organizations and 92 technology clubs across the governorates. These clubs and organizations are key enabling tools to provide the society with ICT training courses, literacy programs, health education and community education services for all society groups, especially women, disabled people and youth. The programs aim at creating self-employment opportunities that help achieving further economic development.
Later this month, Microsoft Egypt will be partnering with TechneDrifts to host a tour across nine governorates in order to support the building of local entrepreneurship ecosystems. A one hour workshop will be delivered in each city targeting young women and providing them with an introduction to coding through “Hour of Code” sessions. The sessions will demonstrate that a career in coding is not a male bastion and that women can also make their mark in the field.
Microsoft launched the #MakeWhatsNext program in 17 countries in the Middle East and Africa. It aims to ignite an interest in STEM subject in young students and to offer support toward women wanting to brave an industry ready for more female leaders.
The campaign, which aims to upskill over 100,000 young girls and reach 10 million young women and parents upon its conclusion, will address the stereotypes and misconceptions that often discourage young women from pursuing careers in STEM related fields. The campaign will run from International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018 and will end on the International Day for Girls in ICT on April 27, 2018.