Projects for Peace is constantly looking for peacebuilders and changemakers, and it found exactly that in Earlham College juniors Feven Naba and Wisdom Boinde.
Naba and Boinde are planning to create educational initiatives to give African women more opportunities to pursue post-secondary education, according to an Earlham release. Projects for Peace has selected these two to receive grants to launch their projects.
Naba's project, titled the "Techiyalesh Initiative,” will establish an academic society and professional network in Ethiopia for women in STEM.
“Women today are told they can be and do anything, yet fewer than 30 percent of STEM jobs around the world are occupied by women,” Naba said in the release. "This gender disparity is even wider in Ethiopia, where I was born and raised. I want to inspire and support women to follow their dreams, just like myself."
Naba just completed her physics and pre-engineering studies at Earlham in spring 2022, and she plans to finish her schooling at Columbia University. The release states she is currently working with students and professors in both the United States and Ethiopia to get her project started.
“Peace is marked not only by the absence of war but also by the presence of justice and equity, with opportunities allowing individuals to follow their aspirations,” Naba said in the release. “It is impossible to talk about a peaceful and sustainable future when women are not integrated as equal participants and contributors.”
Naba's plan is to develop five chapters of a newly established national organization at universities across Ethiopia. Projects for Peace will provide additional funding for scientific instruments to be distributed throughout the schools.
Ahmed Khanani, Earlham's director of the Center for Social Justice and mentor for Naba and Boinde's projects, said Naba's goals are "exceptionally ambitious."
“Were it not so meticulously scaffolded and carefully thought out, it would almost certainly not be doable,” Khanani said in the release. “All this work will create more spaces for women in STEM fields in Ethiopia to thrive, thereby moving toward peace in an ambitious, optimistic and exhilarating register.”
Boinde’s “Maaroŋ Initiative” is focused on strengthening access to higher education for underrepresented women in northern Ghana, the release states. He plans to leverage educational opportunities to encourage women to pursue post-secondary education as an alternative to becoming migrant workers.
“Women from my region are vulnerable to poor work conditions and sexual abuse and do not earn a living wage,” Boinde said in the release. “I want to empower women to take a different path, to become educated and have options beyond the status quo."
Boinde said southern Ghana has achieved economic development much faster than the north. This dynamic, while "Ghana is a peaceful nation," has bred animosity between the regions.
“As someone who grew up in Northern Ghana, I have witnessed the economic disparities between north and south first hand,” Boinde said in the release. “If I, as a man, did not have certain opportunities, I cannot imagine what women, who are treated as subordinates in Ghana, go through. I want to do my best in crafting a society where both men and women can reach their goals and aspirations without having to be hindered by part of the country they belong to. That, to me, is peace.”
A focus of Boinde's project is to use the women's athletic abilities to their advantage. He has partnered with High Morale Academy, a nationally recognized sports academy in Northern Ghana that trains young women to compete in national and international track and field and cross country races.
Boinde's initiative will provide workshops for hundreds of the academy’s clients and help them find scholarship opportunities. He plans to sustain this project by collaborating with different scholarship and athletic organizations around the country.
Boinde is currently conducting research for a physics professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and plans to use his learning and connections from MIT to further his project.
“This carefully crafted project will procure computers, hire interns, launch a seminar composed of alum and local leaders and develop an open-access website with scholarships," Khanani said in the release, "all with the effect of negotiating a very specific issue that will make a discernible impact in persons lives."
The release states Earlham is a proud partner organization with Projects for Peace and one of the few partner institutions to be awarded funding for two projects this year.
This article originally appeared on Richmond Palladium-Item: Earlham College students selected for grants to help African women