And these Nigerian students are coding to solve their community’s biggest problems.
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4 October 2018 | Volume 1, Issue 7
  A note from our guest editor:
I’m Nadia Patel Gangjee, founder and CEO of Sheops, Pakistan’s first online marketplace for female entrepreneurs. And I’m very excited to be guest editing this special issue of Assembly about women in the workforce!

I started Sheops in 2015 to create a safe online space for women to buy and sell to each other. In conservative societies like Pakistan, women are often unable to pursue full-time careers due to family and society pressures. Sheops’ mission is to economically empower Pakistani women and to increase their digital and financial inclusion.

Over the course of three years, Sheops has propelled the creation and growth of hundreds of women-owned businesses. We started out humbly as a small WhatsApp group of friends and family — and we are now a thriving community of about 150,000 women actively engaging in online trade.

We all know that girls can be the real game changers in this world when given the right tools, but we are still have quite a ways to go before we see every girl in school, especially in developing countries. In this issue, you will meet a group of girls from Nigeria who are coding to solve their community’s biggest problems — and Kiara, a Google Science Fair winner from South Africa. Their stories show what girls are capable of when given access to quality education.

Also in this issue, female executives from around the world share their career advice for young women. And we ask you to join Assembly's International Day of the Girl celebration — scroll down to find out how!

Happy reading and hope you enjoy this awesome issue of Assembly!
“Coding gave me a voice.”

These Nigerian students are coding to solve their community’s biggest problems.
Nigerian girls coding
  By Tess Thomas
Before 13-year-old Mariam joined the GirlsCoding initiative, she had never used a computer. Where she lives in Lagos, schools don’t offer technology classes — and many girls aren’t enrolled in school at all.

GirlsCoding is the signature programme of Pearls Africa Foundation, founded by software engineer Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin. Pearls Africa Foundation equips Nigerian girls with the skills they need to thrive in the labour force — including helping girls like Mariam learn to code. After just two years, Mariam knows HTML and JavaScript and is building her own website to raise awareness about food security in Nigeria.

Like her GirlsCoding students, Abisoye grew up in challenging circumstances. She lost her mother at a young age and faced abuse at the hands of her father. With no idea what she would do or where she would go, Abisoye left home at the age of 15. “You’d rather step out on your own than be beaten every day,” she says of her decision to flee to Lagos.

After graduating from secondary school, Abisoye landed an internship at an IT audit firm. It was there that she fell in love with coding: “I was extremely voiceless and coding gave me a voice.” She steadily rose in the company ranks over the next seven years and decided to use her expertise to help Nigerian girls discover their passion for coding.

“I know what it feels like to be from an underserved community. I know what it feels like to be a vulnerable girl. And I know what it takes — I think I can brag about that — to make your way up,” Abisoye says with a smile.

Many of the girls who participate in the GirlsCoding programme are from Makoko, the community where Mariam lives. Makoko is the world’s largest floating slum — the entire settlement of about 400,000 is built on stilts. Poverty, early marriage, teen pregnancy and gender discrimination prevent many girls in Makoko from going to school.

Read more.
Social Life
Quotation Marks

In celebration of International Day of the Girl on October 11, Assembly is hosting panels featuring female industry leaders in banking, technology, design, fashion and business — and we want you to ask them questions!

Ask all your burning career questions using the form below. Be sure to follow @MalalaFund on Instagram to see their responses.

Sound Off
Female business leaders from around the world share their advice for Assembly readers.
“Embrace the inventor in you! It's okay to fail and lose many battles as long as you keep your dreams alive in your heart. Always remember, inventors do not limit their imagination — I studied architectural engineering and all of my inventions have been in other fields!”
— Reem Al Marzouqi,
Emirati engineer and inventor of a foot-controlled car
Akiko Naka
“Don't focus on who you are, focus on what you want to create. Girls, be ambitious.”
— Akiko Naka,
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Wantedly, the leading professional social networking service in Japan
Ana Lucia Villela
"Decide what you really want to do in this world — fulfillment comes from working on what you love."
— Ana Lucia Villela,
Founder and President, Instituto Alana, a Brazilian NGO that promotes healthy childhood development
Gwynne Shotwell
“Get involved early and often with hands on science and engineering activities! At SpaceX, our engineers are involved with all aspects of designing, building, and flying our rockets and spacecraft, and they are regularly tasked with solving seemingly impossible engineering challenges.

By getting involved in hands on programs in school, from robotics competitions to rocketry, coding challenges, and science fairs, you can start to get a sense of what engineering is like in the real world and begin to discover which aspects most excite you.

You cannot control whether you are going to be the smartest person at your company or in a room — however, you do have control over how well you prepare and how much work you are willing to put in, which will ultimately drive the results you are able to achieve.”
— Gwynne Shotwell,
President and Chief Operating Officer, SpaceX
Read more.
How can girls change their communities? Kiara Nirghin has it down to a science.

  By Hannah Orenstein
Kiara Nirghin never would have guessed the impact her simple science project would have on her — and the world.

But ever since the 18-year-old won the Google Science Fair with her idea to help South Africa’s drought-plagued crops, “every single thing” has changed in her life.

Her invention — a new material created from orange peels and avocado skins that can hold up to 300 times its weight in water — earned her first place in the international competition for budding scientists and plenty of media coverage. Kiara also landed a book deal, delivered a TED Talk, was featured in the “New Wave of Disruptors” in Forbes (where she also admitted to taking a selfie with one of her heroes, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google).

With her newly-found fame, Kiara is encouraging other girls to get involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and to use their skills to solve problems in their communities.

In her home of South Africa, Kiara notices that girls aren’t pushed to pursue careers in STEM. She believes this bias is not only holding back girls, but also our world. “If the cure to cancer is in a young girl's mind, if she doesn't have the opportunity to learn STEM, we're not going to get the solution. We need to give girls the necessary resources to create change,” Kiara says.

Read more.
Get published in Assembly!
  Assembly publishes original work by girls, for girls. And we would love to include your voice! Send us your ideas and you could be featured in the next issue.
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