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    Imbuto Reflects on Personal Responsibility in Supporting Our Female Scientific Innovators

    On February 11th, 2022, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science provided the ideal opportunity to examine the challenges that lie ahead in empowering women and girls into joining STEM fields – areas to which entire communities are certain to soon owe their welfare. It is no secret: science has been at the heart of innovations, often leading to demystification of harmful societal practices. Between global warming, population increase and resource mismanagement, an acute scientific awareness must steer our social practices towards sustainable development.

    Imbuto Foundation’s priorities align with the Rwandan Government’s mission to incur sustainable development, which is predicted to positively impact every aspect of Rwandan lives, ranging from the lifespan itself to the well-being of individuals, families and communities. Therefore, the Foundation has strived, since its inception, to devise means of guiding our young women and girls, who bear the same scientific talent as their male counterparts, to join the industries that will propel the Rwanda we have, into the Rwanda we want to offer the next generations.

    Promisingly, the scientific and technological industries of developing economies feature substantial room for progress. A considerable chunk of our potential for advancement is yet to be explored, as gender equality remains a challenge to fully overcome. While remarkable progress has been made, typically at governance level, to uplift women into positions of leadership, influence and financial independence, the road ahead remains lengthy in our private spheres.

    Sociological factors such as lack of community awareness on the importance of girls excelling in school, teen pregnancies, or even the consequences of gender-based violence (GBV), can disrupt girls’ education and limit their opportunities for the rest of their lives. This is why Imbuto Foundation’s programmes work in conjunction with each other; the holistic approach intends to tackle every major environmental or familial component that may impact a girl’s ability to thrive in school.

    In order to bridge the gap between the gender inequality remnant from decades of patriarchy, and the progressive mission of our leadership, activists, philanthropists and visionaries, non-governmental agencies must step in. It is our duty to devise programmes that cater to the educational empowerment of the women and girls that too often, can be left behind by a system that leans in the favour of the male student. This is the origin of our Promotion of Girls’ Education Campaign (PGEC), which targets excellence for female students.

    One component under the PGEC, which Imbuto has been proud to offer Rwandan girls since 2005, is our Best Performing Girls initiative.
    Our Best Performing Girls initiative has sought to reward high performing girls in every sector, district and province, on the basis of their academic merit and effort. Imbuto’s core values aim to communicate that academic prowess should be recognized, encouraged and nurtured. In rewarding these girls, we find it imperative that their scientific potential should be encouraged. Therefore, the Foundation makes it a point to offer courses and trainings in the STEM field as parts of their prize package. This provides the rewarded girls with an immersion into the science sphere, which features ample tertiary education paths, and an increasing amount of funding options. So far, 5474 girls have been rewarded.

    Another programme Imbuto has designed with the aim of encouraging the youth, including young women and girls, into flexing their scientific muscles, is the iAccelerator programme. The iAccelerator programme, which Imbuto implements in collaboration with MYCULTURE, KOICA and UNFPA, has thus far awarded $10,000 to 11 innovations respectively. Of the 26 innovators that have received funding for their innovative idea, on tackling Adolescent Sexual Reproductive and Mental Health issues, 12 are women.

    Accelerating the development of projects arising from innovative ideas that respond to social crises is imperative. The UN has found that water access progress rates should quadruple by 2030 to avoid a crisis where billions are deprived of clean water. While the catastrophic damages of such an event are grim to consider, it is imperative to get ahead of this possible reality by equipping our girls, as much as our boys, with the skills necessary to develop strategies of sustainable resource distribution and ensure access for all, even the most vulnerable.

    The International Day of Women and Girls in Science should remind us of the necessity of investing in all members of our population, if we are to invest in our future. Imbuto’ s mission to empower girls and women into making the best use of their potential starts with a small effort: understanding that women and girls accessing the same spaces and opportunities as their male counterparts isn’t a choice, or even charity – it is a necessity. On this important date, we invite you to ask yourself what position you can hold in the fight against gender equality, and the barriers that young women face accessing STEM fields. From raising awareness to mentoring young girls, every effort can make a crucial change.

    To learn more about our programmes dedicated to women and girls, visit Imbuto Foundation’s website.