Schoolgirls inspired

Khomas schoolgirls were inspired to pursue careers in the STEM fields, after the De Beers Group, along with the Debmarine-Namdeb Foundation, invested in women empowerment.

20 August 2019 | Technology

Evany van Wyk





Woman in Engineering (WomEng) is a non-profit organisation that originated in South Africa.

The organisation, which was started in 2006, aims to encourage young girls to take up studies in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The first-ever WomEng workshop in Namibia was held at the Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (Nipam) in the capital on 14 and 15 August.

Over 130 high school girls from Khomas attended the event.

Guest speakers included various Namibian women engineers, as well as representatives from the ministry of education and the De Beers Group.

Starting off the programme was civil engineer and lead programme coordinator for WomEng, Aditi Lachman. She encouraged the learners to be motivated to learn, ask questions and be ready to have their minds blown. While continuously referencing the ‘mind blown’ emoji, she quickly had the girls come out of their shells.

“Engineering and tech is a fun space,” Lachman said.

The mission of WomEng is to develop a more diverse engineering workforce through education and technology.

Daniel Kali, the De Beers Group resident director, gave a heart-warming and rather humorous speech. Referencing the time he injured his finger, and had to go to the doctor, he explained how scared he was.

“I really didn’t want to do the procedure, because I was sure it would hurt a lot. As it turns out, anaesthesia is the best scientific invention ever made. I didn’t feel a thing. STEM can improve a lot of things,” he explained. His said STEM isn’t just about a career, but about making life better for society.

Unique Karaerua, a grade 8 learner at Jan Möhr Secondary school, told The Zone that Kali’s speech really helped her.

“I want to make life better for society,” said Karaerua.

All the speakers had a unique story to tell, while emphasising that becoming an engineer is not easy.

Sarah Kahima, an electrical engineering student at Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) spoke about sleepless nights, hard work and rewards.

Wollen Nell, a metallurgical engineer, said: “Perseverance is what ultimately pushes you through the hard times.”

Johanna Haufiku, a mechanical engineer, said you will not succeed by simply being a woman, but that hard work is needed.

“Be proactive and ignore the naysayers,” Haufiku said.

The workshop attendees each received a gift bag with a notebook, craft kit and a pink hard hat.

They then decorated their hard hats with the craft kits, in order to represent the change they wanted to make in the world.

“My hat is covered with all the formulas that I know. I am very passionate about knowing things; that’s why I want to help people understand the power of knowledge,” one schoolgirl said.

There was also a question and answer session where the girls had the opportunity to ask the engineers all about their jobs.

“Reach out to us on our website and social media platforms. If you need help or just a little motivation, we will be there,” Lachman added.



Photos: Evany van Wyk

Cap1- Aditi Lachman, a civil engineer and the lead programme coordinator for WomEng, during the workshop.

Cap2- The group of schoolgirls who attended the WomEng workshop.

Cap3- The girls enjoyed the various activities they had to do.

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