Abdulraheem Abdulhakeen
IGNITE Chapter Leader
Katsina, Nigeria

 

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO LEAD IGNITE IN YOUR COMMUNITY?

Having identified the problems of girls in my community in regards to choosing future careers and phobias that the girls have for science, technology, engineering and mathematics based courses, and on how to contribute my effort to help in solving the problems, made me to do IGNITE.

 

WHAT IMPACT HAS IGNITE HAD ON YOUR FEMALE STUDENTS?

IGNITE, since its introduction in Nigeria, has had a positive impact on the female students and the women in my community.

The girls get the idea of self reliance, boldness, self confidence, a love for STEM careers, innovative styles of doing things, feeling the impact of successful women, the determination to succeed and not only to survive in their chosen career.

The girls are able to continue in the spirit of curiosity through IGNITE activities which include but are not limited to field trips, conferencing, workshops, job shadows, connecting girls with real women, mentoring, guidance and counseling.

IGNITE, an acronym for Inspiring Girls Now In Technology Evolution have been inspiring girls to dream big and making it real for them.

 

ARE THERE ONE OR TWO STORIES ABOUT HOW IGNITE HAS HAD AN IMPACT ON A PARTICULAR GIRL?

Really, Challenge abounds everywhere. And the love of seeing others succeeding, requires lots of sacrifice.

I grew up in the Northern Nigeria, where the female children, who outnumbered males, get little or no support for Western Education, not to even talk of securing a space for their choosing career.

My parents got three female children just after I was born in the 70s. I had very few girls as classmates while in primary and post-primary schools. The few girls I studied with were better in learning.

 

“Women tend to be more attentive, flexible and organized” = Christie G. 2013.

Again, I supported the quotation that says:

“If you teach a boy, you educate an individual; but if you teach a girl, you educate a community” = Greg Mortenson.

 

I have always looked for an opportunity to train girls. Where & How to do it had been an issue for me, until I got the opportunity in Seattle Washington, IVLP 2010 to attend an IGNITE workshop under the Chief Executive/ Director IGNITE worldwide, Cathi Rodgveller M.S. ED.  Her company was amazing. The IGNITE community in our neighborhoods- everyone volunteers. Everyone is closer and everyone kind of watches out for each other. It is just a better feeling. I learn about where to do IGNITE and how it is better done.

 

I see my loving Country, Nigeria, where IGNITE functions can have positive impact. IGNITE, thus, helps to give girls opportunities to associate with real women who have real jobs that are interesting, fun, and pay well.  

My connection, with Chichi Okafor, IGNITE expert of Lagos-Nigeria, and Dr. Hassan of STEMGirls, Abuja-Nigeria further boosts my courage.

The challenges are that the good parents or guardians or schools are skeptical about leaving their daughters /girls in the hand of men, no matter the status or the background. And, as a man and school superintendent, I always find it tough in my community to convince and get acceptance of these custodians on behalf of the IGNITE girls.  Numbers of young women on the other hand in my community are not ready for the volunteering functions as obtainable in other African and Western world. This is a major concern, and I wish I get a young woman around me to take the challenge and take the lead to gain interest of the teaming number of girls. This is because girls glimpse themselves as innovators and entrepreneurs through stories of successful women who work and live in their communities. It is no doubt that when the women share their personal stories with the girls, sparks of curiosity, knowledge, hope, and possibility are ignited.

 

My community and the country at large need technological advancement programs. STEM careers and most importantly technologies are men dominated areas before now. The gap is so wide in terms of occupancy, and a need to fill the gaps with female experts is now and not later. Technical innovation requires diversity, and organized minds as found in young girls and women have a big role to play. Men alone cannot do it; hence, the culture of transparency in women alike will make it work better. All these and more include the campaigns of IGNITE.

 

IGNITE is a milestone in my life history.