Power Africa Celebrates International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Power Africa
Feb 9, 2017 · 4 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Daisy Karimi is a project engineer in the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company and co-founder of Strauss Energy.

In 1948, a house was built that the newspapers called, “The House of the Day After Tomorrow.” The home in Dover, Massachusetts was the first in the world to be heated solely with solar energy, an innovation that would not have been possible without the work of biophysicist Maria Telkes. Telkes was a prolific inventor who earned the nickname “Sun Queen” for her inventions of practical thermal devices.

Image for post
Image for post
Charity Wanjiku works with her team team on a solar tile roof installation.
Image for post
Image for post
Daisy Karimi, co-founder of Strauss Energy.

Decades later and oceans away, Kenyan born Charity Wanjiku and Daisy Karimi are building their own version of the “House of the Day After Tomorrow.” Charity and Daisy use Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) solar cells that can be easily integrated into functional parts of residential and commercial construction. With these innovative designs, the walls, windows and roofs of new homes serve as solar panels, generating electricity for today’s solar homes.

February 11 is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrating women’s past achievements and bringing to light the women and girls who are current trailblazers in these fields. Power Africa’s Women in Africa Power (WiAP), brings together women working in the energy sector, including engineers, who are promoting innovations to address the continent’s energy access challenges. Members like Charity and Daisy contribute to creating an environment that encourages women and girls’ full participation in the sector by increasing interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and providing young professionals with role models.

Despite these inspiring successes, globally, only 28 percent of science researchers are women. With STEM education serving as a pathway to energy careers, it is important to encourage young African girls to excel in these fields.

Image for post
Image for post
Sandra Tererai is Taungana founder and STEM-IT-Forward co-founder.

To increase this number, WiAP member Sandra Tererai founded Taungana, a movement that connects rural high school girls to STEM educational opportunities and mentorship networks. Today, Taungana has reached more than 900 high school students across 22 provinces in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This program has inspired Onelisiwe Mxhosana, a student from South Africa, to design a product that can be used to quickly extinguish household fires — which are common in temporary structure rural and urban settlements, and homes that rely on fires for cooking. Lydia Kundidzora, a student from Zimbabwe, designed a coal and charcoal water filter to provide households with safer drinking water supplies.

Image for post
Image for post
Lucky Okudo is is the CEO and founder of Women in Energy and Extractives AFrica (WEX).

Lucky Okudo, another WiAP member, is the CEO and Founder of Women in Energy and Extractives Africa (WEX), an organization providing education and training for women in the energy and extractive sectors. WEX has equipped over 5000 young girls from 30 schools in Kenya with greater exposure to STEM courses through counselling and career talks, and with tools such as mathematical sets and science books. WEX has also offered scholarships, career coaching and internship opportunities to young women.

As we celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we invite you to join the WiAP network and help us further promote women and girls engagement in Africa’s energy sector. Please contact Denise Mortimer for information about WiAP (dmortimer@usaid.gov).

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store