Pledge to take action so all girls can learn and earn at full force.
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7 March 2019 | Volume 1, Issue 17
  A note from our guest editor:
Every time I see Assembly in my inbox, I get excited. I love learning about the fantastic work girls and young women like you are doing around the world. Just look at the line-up in this issue: Betelhem Dessie — Ethiopia’s 19-year-old tech prodigy — is using her talents to help other girls learn to code. Team Auj, an all-female team of Pakistani students, builds race cars and breaks gender stereotypes. And 14-year-old Mehaa Amirthalingam works to reduce freshwater consumption in homes with her new invention.

Girls like Betelhem, the students of Team Auj and Mehaa are able to achieve incredible things because they received a quality education. Every girl — no matter where she lives — should have this opportunity.

But right now more than 130 million girls are not in school. And almost one billion girls are not learning the skills they need to thrive in the modern labour market. Our world is missing out on the potential of these future coders, race car drivers and inventors.

Through Malala Fund’s Full Force campaign, we are asking leaders to invest in education so every girl is prepared for her future. As Education Finance Campaign Manager for Malala Fund, it’s my job to hold governments and large companies accountable for their commitments to girls.

But sometimes they need a push to make the right decision. That’s where we need your help.

In this special issue of Assembly, we’re asking our readers to take the #FullForce pledge. We know the world works better when girls go to school. The #FullForce pledge provides ways you can take action and support girls’ education in your community and country. Keep reading to learn more.

Happy International Women’s Day tomorrow! I hope you celebrate by joining the Force. 


Take the #FullForce pledge
Girls have the power to boost economies, create jobs, make communities safer and drive industry.

But right now more than 130 million girls are out of school.

And almost one billion girls and young women lack the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing labour market.

Pledge to take action so every girl can learn and earn at full force.
Coder by age 10, software developer by 19: Meet Ethiopian teen tech entrepreneur Betelhem Dessie
Betelhem Dessie
  By Tess Thomas
When Betelhem Dessie’s father didn't have time to celebrate her 9th birthday, she decided to become a tech entrepreneur and pay for a celebration herself.

Drawn to the field for its money-making potential, Betelhem began learning by hanging around local computer repair and video editing shops in her Ethiopian hometown of Harar. Google searches and borrowed books from local colleges helped expand her knowledge.

Soon Betelhem was earning an income from her after-school tech jobs, which included video editing and installing cellphone software. “Being able to make that money made me feel very confident and independent. I wanted that feeling to last,” she explains of her initial interest in the field.

It turned out that Betelhem had a natural — even prodigious — talent for technology and coding. As her capabilities grew, so did her fame. Local news outlets began featuring Betelhem’s story. When she was 10 years old, then Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi invited her and her family to live in the capital of Addis Ababa. The government paid for Betelhem to continue her education and to work on confidential software development projects.

Since then, Betelhem has been busy putting her skills to use — she has developed and copyrighted four software programmes, including a digital library that she created in grade 10. The programme helps schools with limited internet to access the resources their students need to learn. Betelhem also invented an app that allows the government to track irrigation systems by mapping rivers. Any agricultural professional with a smartphone can contribute to the app.

Now at age 19, Betelhem sees that tech has the potential to offer a lot more than just money for birthday celebrations. “I believe the next big thing for Africa is technology,” she shares. “The biggest thing we have in Africa is a young generation. So if we train the young generation in tech, we’ll be able to build something that is everlasting.”

Read more.
Around the world 
What is your dream career?
“When I grow up I want to be an actress and an industrial designer. Ever since I was little I’ve been intrigued by the arts. I like music, painting, drawing, dance, but what attracts me the most are theatre and construction, inventing things.”
— Paola, 17, Colombia
“I want to be an Egyptologist when I’m older. I want to be able to see into the past and learn how to better the future.”
— Emma, 13, Canada
“I want to be an architect. I like drawing, designing, and seeing how houses and buildings are built and planned and thinking about how spaces can be changed.”
— Martina, 15, Argentina
“I want to be an activist and politician because I want to make this society better. I want to change people's point of views about education for women, because everyone has the right to get an education.”
— Aulia, 20, Indonesia
  Illustrations by Tyla Mason (@tmuis), a recent university graduate from South Africa.
Pakistan’s all-female racing team is building fast cars and driving change
Pakistani all-female racing team
  It is hard work to make a race car. It is even harder if you’re a girl living in a society that tells you you can’t. But that didn’t stop Team Auj — an all-female team of university students from Pakistan — from building and racing a car at international engineering competition Formula Student.

The Formula Student competition challenges engineering students around the world to build single-seater race cars. The cars are then brought to Silverstone Circuit — the prestigious motor racing track in the U.K. — where judges evaluate their fuel economy, endurance, acceleration, design dynamics and marketing.

The greatest obstacle in Team Auj’s road to Silverstone was combating gender stereotypes to secure funding. “In a society where women are ridiculed for not being good drivers, the notion that a team of girls are making a racing car was not easy to digest,” explains 21-year-old Wardah Jamal, the team’s marketing manager. Like the other 11 members of the team, Wardah is a student at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad. They are the first all-female team from Pakistan to compete in Formula Student.

Meet a few members of Team Auj.

Name: Azka Athar
Age: 23
Subject of study at university Industrial design
Role on Team Auj: Team lead

On studying industrial design…
“Industrial design is a very new field in Pakistan (my parents still don’t understand what I do!). The best thing about this field is that there is no right and wrong and every perspective is appreciated and valued.”

On her hopes for the future of Team Auj…
“We are under a lot of national and international scrutiny now. Where the world barely knew us until last year, the motorsports world is now assessing every move we make. The pressure is intense but it's not something we can't handle. The goal is to make a better performing car this year and live up to the raised expectations we have created in FS (Formula Student) 2018. I hope we make Pakistan proud once more on the racing tracks.”

On the importance of young women studying STEM…
“In our rapidly growing technology-based society, it is very important to study STEM subjects. It helps us contribute in a better and more creative way. For young women, it’s important to make them strong and compatible for the competing society.”

Read more.
Did you know? 

Student profile

This 14-year-old inventor is tackling the water scarcity crisis
Mehaa Amirthalingam
  By Ayesha Shakya
When 14-year-old Mehaa Amirthalingam read about the Cape Town water crisis, she understood just how catastrophic this issue can be. Every function in the human body relies on water and every country on the planet has the potential to be affected by water scarcity. So she decided to do something about it.

“Since toilet flushing consumes the highest amount of water of all our daily routines, I decided to create a robust product that can recycle water from other home appliances (greywater), as well as using freshwater, to save on water consumption,” Mehaa explains of her invention. “After each flush, my device blocks the flow of fresh water into the tank, instead allowing greywater to filter in. This reduces the amount of fresh drinking water wasted on each flush.”

Mehaa named her device “Arya” after Aryabhatta, the first major mathematician and astronomer of ancient India, because it is also the first of its kind. Arya can be retrofitted to most existing toilets and does not use electricity. In recognition of her work on Arya, Discovery Education and 3M named Mehaa a 2018 Young Scientist Challenge Finalist.

Watch the video.
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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