Girls in Nigeria use STEM skills to break down gender barriers
A project supported by Theirworld’s Small Grants Programme educates and mentors schoolgirls to become advocates for science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their communities.
Usman Faridah faces a long journey to school every day in Nigeria. But the 13-year-old loves her lessons, especially science and technology.
She has her sights set on becoming an engineer and breaking down some gender barriers along the way.
“The society has said we don’t have the power to be an engineer. I want to show them that I can do it,” she said.
Faridah spoke at an event at Nawarudeen Junior Grammar School in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State. It’s part of the STEMXX Nigeria project, run by The Sapphires Development Initiative (TSDI) and supported by Theirworld’s Small Grants Programme.
STEMXX is designed to educate and mentor schoolgirls to become advocates for science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their communities.
One of its components was the launch of STEM Girls’ Forums at 10 rural schools in three southwestern states. In each school, 10 girls took a STEM curriculum then carried out projects with social impact.
At Nawarudeen Junior Grammar School, the forum hosted a special “STEMposium” for 200 female students, hoping to spark their interest in studying STEM and possible future careers.
They discussed overcoming gender barriers, performed fun science experiments and demonstrated practical uses of STEM skills.
Faridah said: “I have learned about breaking gender stereotypes. Girls are not baby-making machines only. Now I know that I am female and more.”
Adeyinka Aliyah, another member of the STEM Girls’ Forum at the school, led a game for students that highlighted the need for calculations in everyday activities.
Aliyah said: “The society says that a female cannot do what a male can do. But I want to assure them that what a male can do, a female can do better.”
After the eight-week training, the girls came up with their own unique ideas for mini-projects.The Sapphires Development Initiative
The Sapphires Development Initiative was founded by Olutomiwa Binuyo, who is also a Global Youth Ambassador (GYA) for Theirworld. There are another 25 GYAs among the organisation’s team members.
Olutomiwa said: “Girls are leaving secondary school saying they want to get married and be a good mother to their children. We hear that all the time.
“I want to get marginalised communities to churn out more female scientists and engineers. I want to tell the world that females in marginalised communities can be drivers of change.”
TSDI is one of 13 recipients of awards from Theirworld’s Small Grants Programme for 2022-23. The programme gives up to £10,000 to registered charities and non-profits helping disadvantaged and overlooked young people in the UK and around the world.