STEM Sisters Initiative for Somali Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Addressing the gender gap in STEM in Somalia
Gender issues in Somalia are highly determined by culture, clan setups, and patriarchal systems. Hence looking at and addressing gender equality issues is important in that, Somali women are able to attain education, especially in the STEM-related areas, can be able to get the opportunity and participate in developing the economy of Somalia and be empowered. Somali women are capable of picking up STEM subjects and jobs if given the tools that they deserve, such as resources and monetary aid in terms of scholarships. With these opportunities, they will be able to venture into the STEM male-dominant fields such as Engineering and Technology.
Women in Somalia hardly get employment opportunities and are often discouraged by external societal factors including the belief that a woman’s place in the Society is doing the domestic chores. Women’s participation outside of the household was previously stigmatized and that led to many women not being able to attain proper education due to dropping out hence leading to a low female labour force in Somalia as compared to males. With the limited opportunities of formal employment for Somali women, studying STEM subjects will provide them with the skills that they need to be innovative and come up with ways that will help them sustain their livelihoods. Encouraging and empowering women to attain education will increase their likelihood of labour market participation. The recent changes in the ways of thinking have seen many women and girls very eager to learn and change the notion that was once there.
Somalia is a country that is in the process of developing since it rose from the ashes of the decades of civil wars and it is in need of people who will work in STEM areas so as to develop it. The Somali STEM Sisters programme is meant to empower these girls and women who had once lost hope of a better future to venture into the STEM fields so that they can be part of the development of Somalia and globe.
There is also need for psychosocial support for the Somalis especially women who witnessed and experiences the three-decade-long protracted conflict that led to widespread trauma and devastating consequences on mental health. Without good mental health, there will be no innovative people, which is crucial to any developing country. Psychosocial support will aid create emotional intelligent girls and women who will be able to forge the way forward and be role models for the next female generations. The Somali STEM Sister will also work towards advocating for women’s / girl’s integration and participation in the labour markets, countering the prevailing narrative concerning Somali women, advocating for education retention rates of female students, encouraging tertiary and secondary school girls to study STEM subjects and help them get scholarships in the STEM fields.
Venturing in the STEM fields will help Somali women to come up with ways to combat poverty since they are the most affected by it and just as the saying goes, that, when a woman is educated the Nation is as well educated but when a man is educated then an individual is educated.
“Here at STEM Sisters, we focus on the growth of Somali women and girls, the future of Somalia. Any developing countries need to utilize the talents of its citizens including women, IDPs, Refugees and returnees so as to develop economically. Somali STEM Sisters does that by encouraging females from all walks of life including marginalized communities, refugees and returnees to venture into the STEM fields. We believe that when Somali women progress, there will be true development in Somalia” – Dr. Sadiyo Siad
“Our Mandate as the Somali STEM Sisters is to motivate, share information, create awareness concerning the women in STEM and advice on the way forward for those who might be interested. We will also be mentoring young girls and women who have already decided on their paths” – Dr Sadiyo Siad
How we will do it
- Expose girls’/ women’s role models in STEM – we will connect the Somali young females in STEM with famous Somali women in STEM fields so that they can be inspired to pursue their dreams.
- Dropping the Gender Stereotypes in Somalia – by building Somali girls’ and women’s confidence in STEM subjects and pushing for scholarships in the STEM areas.
- Make this platform inclusive, by including the marginalized communities, IDPs, returnees and refugees
- Encouraging women and girls in Somalia to be innovative in the STEM fields
- Offer training, coaching, and mentorship; and supporting the ladies to get employment opportunities