“ENGINEERING EQUALITY: EMPOWERING GIRLS IN THE DIGITAL AGE”
October 13, 2023
In a world increasingly shaped by technology, there is a remarkable wave of young women who are boldly forging their paths in the field of digital engineering. Their journeys are nothing short of inspirational, marked by unwavering determination and an unrelenting pursuit of their dreams. Together, let's embark on a journey through the lives of these extraordinary young women, delving into their experiences, understanding their challenges, and celebrating their remarkable achievements as they pave the way towards a brighter, more inclusive future in STEM.
The Global Engineer Girls (GEG) Kosovo initiative, which came into existence in 2022 through a collaborative partnership between Limak Kosovo and the United Nations Development Programme with the aim to improve women’s economic empowerment in Kosovo through STEM/Engineering. The project will aim to improve women’s access in the labour market and economy in the STEM fields, by strengthening the eco-system that will motivate and support more women studying and joining STEM/Engineering fields. This project has set out to uplift and empower female students who have chosen the academic path of engineering by providing them with access to scholarships, internships and mentorship programs, as well as networking opportunities and courses for personal and professional development.
Join us as we delve into the experiences and aspirations of four remarkable young women who have been beneficiaries of the Global Engineer Girls Kosovo, and learn about their stories, inspirations and the impact the project has had for them.
Bleona Feka, a second-year student at the University of Mitrovica, Faculty of Food Technology, is a strong believer that to promote diversity and inclusion in engineering, especially for women, a multifaceted approach is essential. She believes that specific training and guidance for women in engineering are a must, as well as a work environment that promotes an equitable culture and respects diversity – and as a result, contributes to an industry that is more inclusive and sensitive to the needs of all individuals.
Bleona also believes that by creating specialized programmes and clubs for women in engineering (such as Women in STEM) and celebrating the achievements of women engineers through awards and recognition programmes, they will be recognized, motivated, and in this way boost their confidence and motivation.
In her vision of the future of digital engineering, Bleona sees women playing a pivotal role. She believes that women have great potential to shape the future of digital engineering by contributing through their unique skills, perspectives, and leadership qualities. According to Bleona, girls' and womens’ involvement can lead to more innovative, inclusive, and ethical advances in the field, ultimately benefiting society as a whole.
Bleona is calling for the continuous promotion of gender diversity and inclusion in technology in order to unlock the full potential of digital engineering. As more women enter and rise in the field, they can serve as mentors and role models for the next generation of female engineers. This mentorship, also received from the GEG project, encourages more women to pursue careers in digital engineering, and in this way, together build a more equal and inclusive world.
Blerta Jusufi is an engineering student whose journey into digital engineering was ignited by her passion for technology and the valuable skills it imparts. She discovered that engineering is more than what is understood scientifically. Engineering has taught her critical thinking about challenges, deconstructing them, and addressing them effectively. Engineering has also taught her teamwork and understanding that everything works best in a team environment. Finally, engineering has led her to bet structure her work when under pressure and thrive when things turn difficult.
In her career, she's drawn inspiration from many role models, and one she had the opportunity to meet at Isa Boletini University of Mitrovica, Faculty of Food Technology, is Teuta Sahatqija, an engineer who transitioned seamlessly between engineering, business, and diplomacy. Ms. Sahatqija’s relentless pursuit of her dreams and commitment to self-empowerment have deeply influenced Blerta, and also the "Women in Tech" initiative, which aligns perfectly with Blerta's aspirations, contributing also to the Women in STEM network and empowering those in STEM fields through digital empowerment.
In Blerta's story, we see the transformative potential of engineering and the impact of inspiring role models filled with the pursuit of passion, skill development, and dreams in the world of digital engineering.
Erza Osmani is a student whose journey into digital engineering was sparked by her lifelong fascination with technology and its transformative potential. It all began during her studies at the Faculty of Computer and Electrical Engineering (FIEK), where she was exposed to the exciting world of digital engineering, which helped her discover her passion for digital systems, coding, and electronics.
To young girls aspiring to enter the world of digital engineering, Erza has some advice: “Believe in yourself and your capability and remember that gender (being a girl or a woman) should never stand in the way of your success in this field”. Erza emphasizes that every girl and woman should embrace their uniqueness and diverse skills that they can bring to the world of technology. Another inspiring piece of advice Erza wants to share with girls is to explore technology, coding, and electronics from a young age, engage in hands-on projects, experiment with coding languages, and delve into robotics or electronics kits to establish a strong foundation in subjects related to STEM. According to her, staying curious and seeking more knowledge is crucial in an ever-evoving tech industry, as well as remembering that passion and determination are one's greatest assets.
Arijana Tëernava is a dedicated advocate for early exposure to STEM concepts through hands-on activities and inclusive educational programmes, with a special focus on encouraging Girls in STEM from an early age. She firmly believes that creating supportive environments is essential to enabling and nurturing the curiosity among girls and young women, thereby emphasizing the real-world impact of STEM. Drawing from her personal journey, Arijana recognizes the profound influence of women role models in STEM, as they inspire countless young girls by demonstrating that excellence in these subjects is attainable for anyone.
Arijana derives inspiration from remarkable amazing female engineers such as Mira Murati, a contributor to ChatGPT, and Grace Hopper, both trailblazers in their respective fields. Their exceptional achievements serve as a driving force in Arijana's own career, underscoring the importance of female role models in STEM. Arijana is dedicated to pushing boundaries and striving to make a meaningful impact in her work.
Arijana's journey into the world of STEM is closely linked with her experiences at the Faculty of Computer and Electrical Engineering (FIEK), where she discovered her passion for digital systems, coding, and electronics. FIEK provided the foundational knowledge and inspiration that fuel Arijana's mission to empower and inspire the next generation of Girls in STEM.
Through GEG Kosovo's offerings of scholarships, mentorship, and the creation of a supportive community, they are not only fuelling the dreams of individual aspiring engineers but also actively contributing to the creation of a more inclusive and equitable world.
In this digital age, where innovation knows no bounds, let us keep in mind the inspiring remarkable journeys of these young women. They stand as a powerful testament to the transformative potential of education, mentorship, and unwavering determination. They are illuminating the path towards a brighter, more inclusive future in STEM, where the possibilities are boundless for everyone. GEG Kosovo has made these opportunities a reality, setting a positive impact of collaborative initiatives in the field of education and women empowerment.
Story by: Enis Mustafa - UNDP Kosovo - Communication Office
Photos & Design by: Enis Mustafa