Female engineers, UK’s Royal Academy partner on capacity building
The SheEngineer project is a capacity building program for female engineers, Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers and public secondary school girls in JSS1 and II in the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
APWEN entered into a productive partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), the United Kingdom in 2019 when it obtained a grant from the Academy to carry out the ‘SheEngineer Invent It, Build It Project’.
The grant was awarded by the Academy under its Global Challenges Research Fund, (GCFR) Africa Catalyst Programme, a fund managed by the United Kingdom government. The GCRF Africa Catalyst programme is to strengthen professional engineering bodies in sub-Saharan Africa so that they can effectively promote the profession, share best practice and increase local engineering capacity, to drive development. This Phase 3 of GCRF Africa Catalyst is to galvanise, build on and scale up the previously successful activities like those funded in Phases 1 and 2 of the programme.
Speaking at the flag-off of the project in Lagos, the President, Association Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria, APWEN, Funmilola Ojelade said the desire of APWEN is to meet the global requirement of promoting diversity, with the impetus to be the first professional association to advocate for girl child STEM education in Nigeria and also among the professional engineering institutions in Nigeria to work towards the development of a gender and diversity policy to encourage the inclusive growth of members from diverse backgrounds.
Ojelade said, “Our role as a professional association is to provide leadership, the source for requisite manpower and target beneficiaries to drive the idea and make the project most impactful; and also monitor and evaluate the projects to ensure that they deliver on their intended milestones within the project duration.
The objectives of the SheEngineer Invent it, Build It project, is in-sync with the strategic objectives of APWEN’s development master plan, its advocacy mandate and its gender and diversity policy framework- which places emphasis on engineering education and training in skilling and re-skilling the Nigerian workforce by strengthening the capacity of our local workforce to bridge the yawning skill-gap in our society, while encouraging inclusion and gender participation in engineering services to meet the desired socioeconomic objectives of community-based engineering projects and practices in Nigeria.”
The grant awardee and immediate past president of APWEN, Felicia Agubata said in the train the trainers’ scheme, 60 female engineers capacity are to be developed, and a minimum of 200 STEM teachers are to be trained across the country.
Also, stakeholders in the built industry have concluded plans aimed at motivating and attracting a diverse talent pool of girl child to the profession.
This, they said will inspire and the next generation of female engineers by engaging young girl minds to the possibilities that are available in the career.
Leading the call in Abuja, Mrs. Ibifuro Ken-Giami of Centre for Economic and Leadership Development, CELD, said the essence is to highlight the role of an engineering career in Sustainable Development Goals.
According to her, “We want the upcoming women to build and ignite their potentials to stand a taste of time. When the female number is below twenty (20), development may not take place.”
Explaining further, Ken-Giami urged girls to take up a career in science, technology, stressing that we want them to grow with confidence because women are under-representation in the field of engineering.
Also, a member of the House of Representatives, Omowunmi Ogunlola, said gender inequality, which has made women not adequately represented in politics, banking and other spheres of life.
“Girl Child is discriminated all over the globe, especially, in Nigeria. My passion is to see women having access to quality life through empowerment. We have only 11 female in our Lower Chamber.”
Ogunlola argued that young women lack mentorship, and unfortunately, the government is paying lip service to gender disparity, “so, we should encourage girl child to take up a career in the engineering profession.
For engineers like Kassim Ali, Ebierin Otuaro and Ini Usoro, girls should not be scared of taking to the building profession, because the engineering discipline is for both boys and girls.
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