This 2017 winners of the EQUALS in Tech Awards took part in a discussion panel on 20 December 2017 at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), held in Geneva, Switzerland. The winners shared, with IGF participants, their experiences in developing and implementing initiatives that bring digital tech access, skills and leadership opportunities to women and girls around the world.
Participating in the panel were: Dr. Nayla Fahed of Lebanese Alternative Learning, winners of the Access Category; Kemly Camacho of the Sula Batsu Cooperativa, winners of the Leadership Category; Roya Mahboob of the Digital Citizen Fund, winners of the Skills Category; Carla Licciardello of ITU; Anna Fälth of UN Women; and moderator Su Sonia Herring, Internet Society Youth Representative.
(Winners of the 2017 EQUALS in Tech Awards, left to right,: Kemly Camacho of the Sula Batsu Cooperativa, winners of the Leadership Category; Roya Mahboob of the Digital Citizen Fund, winners of the Skills Category; Dr. Nayla Fahed of Lebanese Alternative Learning, winners of the Access Category.)
Although the projects are distinct from one another, the representatives of the three winning initiatives, Dr. Nayla Fahed, Roya Mahboob, and Kemly Camacho, highlighted the gravity of understanding the local context while maintaining a global perspective.
Dr. Nayla Fahed of the Lebanese Alternative Learning pointed out that, "in Lebanon, science is taught in English and French, not Arabic," which posed a challenge for the Syrian refugees that the programme aims to target.
The initiative has aimed to resolve this problem, she highlighted, with mixed language use and the simple technique of repetition to ensure that over time, Syrian refugees are not confined to content in Arabic, but are rather "open to the world". In addition, responding to the challenge of consistent electricity, the Tabshoura in a Box that Lebanese Alternative Learning has created uses a Rasberry Pi server that can hotspot up to 30 computers with a battery life of ten hours.
Kemly Camacho of the Sula Batsu Cooperativa in Costa Rica recognized the importance of technology to serve the needs of rural women. She stated that, "stereotypes and patterns of the relationship between women and technology are stronger in rural areas," therefore it is vital that technology is used "as a tool to change their local contexts".
Roya Mahboob of the Digital Citizen Fund in Afghanistan stressed the importance of respecting tradition and family while helping families see the job security benefits of technology for their daughters.
The winners also shared their forward-looking visions and perspectives.
With their unique addition of arts to the more traditional STEM subject area, Dr. Nayla Fahed mentioned that going forward, she would "love to use digital tech to bring arts to the community".
Kemly Camacho expressed that, "EQUALS is crucial to recognize that we as women are trying to change the digital society". In the near future, the Sula Batsu Cooperativa hopes to offer a conceptual model to the world about how to develop technological poles in rural areas. In addition, the organization hopes "to have success in the northern part of Costa Rica where is has been working for the last four years [and] plans to scale up to include Central America".
Roya Mahboob expressed her joy for being recognized on the global stage. She shared that the Digital Citizen Fund has ambitious plans to extend their work to other countries around the world, and build the first STEM school in Afghanistan to develop the next generation of technology leaders in the country.
Watch the panel discussion here.
Learn more about each winning initiative here.
Follow the work of these three successful women and tech pioneers and their initiatives on Twitter at: @RoyaMahboob @SulaBatsu @kemlycr