US Ambassador Applauds TechWomen Delegation Empowering Women In STEM

Mar 8, 2024

Ambassador Christopher J. Lamora with the TechWomen delegation

By Sa’ah Siona Ikei

The US Ambassador, Christopher J. Lamora, has saluted the TechWomen Delegation as they embarked on their visit to Cameroon with the purpose of empowering women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, STEM. 

Hosting a gracious reception at his Bastos Residence on February 26, 2024, the Ambassador highlighted the significance of this women-led initiative, which aims to empower and actively engage women in various STEM fields across Cameroon.

TechWomen, an initiative launched by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2011, falls under the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, ECA, at the US Department of State. Managed by the Institute of International Education, IIE, TechWomen facilitates a comprehensive five-week professional mentorship and exchange programme. It brings together emerging women leaders in STEM fields from Africa, the Middle East, and South and Central Asia with leading companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago.

Nikita Vala, a 2022 South African fellow, shared with The Post that her reason for joining the delegation was because it continues the legacy of the TechWomen programme. “It’s about ensuring that communities stay connected and that we need to work with each other, to keep relations with the US and Cameroon tight.” To her, cultural exchange and mentorship networking is necessary for this.

The TechWomen Delegation comprises US Mentors, foreign Fellows, and staff from the Institute of International Education. Their visit to Cameroon seeks to foster collaboration, empower women in STEM, and inspire young girls to pursue careers in these fields. By strengthening the ties between Cameroon and the United States, the delegation aims to expand opportunities for women in the tech industry and contribute to the development of the STEM sector in Cameroon.

During their stay, the delegation will engage with various organisations, including non-governmental organisations, private enterprises, universities, primary schools, incubators, and innovation hubs. This immersive experience will allow the delegates to gain insights into the local STEM ecosystem, understand the challenges faced by women and girls, and connect with potential TechWomen applicants.

Nazneen Ali joined the programme in 2023 and since then serves as a Cultural Mentor for the programme in the US Chicago. “Equity for women in tech is a significant issue. There is a disparity in the representation between men and women in tech,” she said. Citing the example of fellow Cameroonian alumnus called Gizelle, she pointed out the fact that this lady oversees a group of 200 men and that itself is a challenge, given that men and women differ in their attitudes in the work place. 

“When we talk about STEM fields, we are talking about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These are hard skills that bring different skills sets to the workplace and that can be a challenge for men and women in the work place,” she concluded.

The TechWomen programme offers participants, known as Emerging Leaders, a wide range of professional development activities, including leadership and entrepreneurship workshops, technology seminars, and networking events. Each Emerging Leader is paired with a volunteer mentor who provides guidance and support in achieving their personalised learning goals. The programme also includes cultural enrichment activities and the development of impactful tech projects to address socioeconomic challenges in their home countries.