Although notable strides have been made in the field of gender equality in South Africa, girls remain at a disadvantage when it comes to taking up studies and professions in science, technology, mathematics and engineering. Through a combination of opportunity and legacy, too few girls are engaged in these sectors.
To address this deficit, UNICEF, in partnership with the national Department of Education, established the Technogirls mentorship programme in 2005. This initiative identifies high school girls between the ages of 15 and 18 who are from disadvantaged communities (rural and urban), and who are doing well academically.
Through a mentorship system, the girls are guided to make informed career choices, with an emphasis on science, technology and engineering. Such mentorship is important as it helps the students link what they learn at school with the skills needed to succeed in the working world.
To further the building of capacity, they are then placed in corporate mentorship and skills development programmes where many of them also benefit from academic scholarships.
Since its inception, over 5000 young women have received university or college scholarships. There are now TechnoGirls in all nine provinces of South Africa and they form an inspiring cadre of future leaders who’s success can in part be attributed to this programme.