Earlham College students shortlisted for grants to help African women

Projects for Peace is constantly on the lookout for peacemakers and changemakers, and that’s exactly what they’ve found in Earlham College juniors Feven Naba and Wisdom Boinde.

Naba and Boinde plan to create educational initiatives to give African women more opportunities to pursue post-secondary education, according to a statement from Earlham. Projects for Peace selected these two individuals to receive grants to launch their projects.

Naba’s project, titled “Techiyalesh Initiative”, will establish a university society and professional network in Ethiopia for women in STEM.

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“Women today are being told they can be and do anything, yet less than 30% of STEM jobs globally are held by women,” Naba said in the statement. “This gender disparity is even greater in Ethiopia, where I was born and raised. I want to inspire and help women achieve their dreams, just like me.”

Naba has just completed her studies in physics and pre-engineering at Earlham in the spring of 2022, and she plans to complete her studies at Columbia University. The statement said she is currently working with students and faculty in the United States and Ethiopia to launch her project.

“Peace is marked not only by the absence of war but also by the presence of justice and equity, with opportunities for individuals to pursue their aspirations,” Naba said in the statement. “It is impossible to talk about a peaceful and sustainable future when women are not included as equal participants and contributors.”

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Naba’s plan is to develop five chapters of a newly established national organization in universities across Ethiopia. Projects for Peace will provide additional funding for science instruments that will be distributed to all schools.

Ahmed Khanani, director of Earlham’s Center for Social Justice and mentor to Naba and Boinde’s projects, said Naba’s goals are “exceptionally ambitious”.

“If it weren’t so meticulously scaffolded and carefully thought out, it certainly wouldn’t be feasible,” Khanani said in the statement. “All of this work will create more spaces for women in STEM fields in Ethiopia to thrive, moving towards peace in an ambitious, optimistic and uplifting register.”

Boinde’s “Maaroŋ Initiative” focuses on increasing access to higher education for underrepresented women in northern Ghana, the statement said. It plans to take advantage of educational opportunities to encourage women to pursue post-secondary education as an alternative to immigration.

“Women in my region are vulnerable to poor working conditions and sexual abuse and do not earn a living wage,” Boinde said in the statement. “I want to empower women to take a different path, to be educated, and to have options beyond the status quo.”

Boinde said southern Ghana has achieved much faster economic development than the north. This dynamic, while “Ghana is a peaceful nation”, has fueled animosity between the regions.

“As someone who grew up in northern Ghana, I witnessed the economic disparities between north and south,” Boinde said in the statement. “If as a man I did not have certain opportunities, I cannot imagine what women, who are treated as subordinates in Ghana, go through. I want to do my best to create a society where men and women can achieve their goals and aspirations without being hindered by any part of the country they belong to.That, to me, is peace.

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One of the goals of Boinde’s project is to use women’s athletic abilities to their advantage. He has partnered with High Morale Academy, a nationally recognized sports academy in northern Ghana that trains young women to compete in national and international athletics and cross-country races.

Boinde’s initiative will provide workshops to hundreds of academy clients and help them find scholarship opportunities. He plans to support this project by collaborating with different scholarly and sports organizations across the country.

Boinde is currently conducting research for a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and plans to use his learning and connections to MIT to advance his project.

“This carefully designed project will provide computers, hire interns, launch a seminar comprised of alum and local leaders, and develop an open-access website with scholarships,” Khanani said in the statement, “all with the effect of to negotiate a very specific issue that will have a noticeable impact on people’s lives.”

The statement said Earlham is a proud partner organization of Projects for Peace and one of the few partner institutions to have received funding for two projects this year.

Zach Piatt reports on sports and education for The Palladium-Item. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.

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