“Don’t ask what someone wants to be when they grow up. Ask what problem they want to solve.”

A new generation of female leaders is on its way. Women’s rights, education and working digitally in times of corona. How are civil society organizations, governments and companies dealing with this? We spoke to South African Naadiya Moosajee, co-founder of WomEng. This NGO works in 22 countries worldwide, helping to get more women into technology. “We empower problem-solving Changemakers, even during this crisis.”

“In many African countries, complete lockdowns were quickly introduced due to Covid-19, enforced by the military and police. Many emergency laws are being put in place – presidents can take more radical measures than they normally can.”

Remaining Critical

“Civil society organizations, which are normally critical of governments, no longer have a voice. No one can predict the future; getting through the days ahead is already a challenge so you don’t know how things will go. This shouldn’t become a sliding scale. In the long run, people cannot lose their rights. On this, we remain vigilant.”

Making choices in uncertain times

“The economic consequences are already enormous. Many businesses are closed, restaurants have shut and people are losing their jobs. The competition will soon be fierce, students cannot find internships, and men are generally hired more often than women.

That is why we train senior managers in change management during uncertain times. How do you make the right choices during a crisis response? Different perspectives can help. That is why we emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion during training, as well as the resilience of the community you belong to.”

Accelerated Development

“Developing leadership qualities in girls is one of our main objectives. We have the largest network of female engineers in the world, with some 10,000 members worldwide. They are committed to breaking down barriers. We help them to become even better activists and ambassadors – now all through virtual training. In this way we work together on a new generation of female leaders, trained as engineers. We started doing this digitally by the end of last year, but because of the corona crisis this development has been accelerated.”

Enterprising problem solvers

“In high school, people often ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We flip the question: what problem would you like to solve?” Enterprising people who come from the community themselves know the problems they encounter inside and out. In this way, they get to innovative solutions that can bring about prolific change.”

Together with VSO, Edukans, Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and Africa Youth Movement (AYM), WomEng forms the Vuvuzela partnership. Together they are committed to women’s rights, with education as the main catalyst.

Naadiya Moosajee: “What makes Vuvuzela unique is the focus on education in combination with technology. We help children and young people to view the world in an analytical way. Women have their own way of thinking. If you combine that with training in technical skills, you create the most innovative solutions.”