The women of Flying Labs on International Women’s Day
For the past six years, humanitarian robotics non-profit organisation WeRobotics has been working really hard to empower local drone start-ups with the right tools for them satisfy all contracts, local and international, through establishing the Flying Labs Network.
And today, on this International Women’s Day, the organisation went ahead and gave the female members from all the 31 Flying Labs around the world a voice.
“Today, March 8, 2021, we – the leading ladies of 31 Flyings Labs in Africa, Latin America and Asia/Pacific and WeRobotics – are celebrating the International Women’s Day,” The Network said. “This year’s theme is #ChoosetoChallenge. We choose to challenge our world, sectors and communities. And we choose to do so every day of the year. This recent study on women in the drone sector finds that women only represent thirteen percent of the industry. And women are even more underrepresented in technical and executive positions. Acknowledging this reality, we choose to challenge and change it.
“We believe in leading and motivating by example. Together, we are standing for a more inclusive and equal world. Together, we are changing the perceptions of the technology for good sector. Together, we are leading with our hearts, compassion and passion. Together we represent what the Flying Labs network and WeRobotics are all about: The Power of Local. The Power of Women with very different backgrounds and from all corners of the world coming together.
“To celebrate the International Women’s Day together, we want to share our thoughts on how we contribute to positive change in the world and about our contribution to making the world a better place for women. Let us inspire you with our words of wisdom and passion:
Carole Kannankin, Flying Labs Communication Coordinator, Benin Flying Labs – “No matter the situation– good or bad that I’m confronted with — I always face it as a human being not as a woman. Why do I act like that? Just to show that what matters is trying, even if it seems hard. So I inspire my generation and the younger ones by examples. If I can do it, then you can do it too; and you can even do it a far better way. At the end of the day, we can all contribute to a better world.”
Lily Asongfac, Space Youth Program Manager, Cameroon Flying Labs – “Organising events around career development in the STEM field and training young girls in basic ICT skills is one of the ways I contribute. To work very hard and achieve the goals I set for myself, and becoming a space system engineer with a PhD is how I believe I can motivate youths around the world and my country in particular. Serving as a mentor to young people who aspire to take up careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) will be a great opportunity for me to share my knowledge with them.”
Marian Edem Gadabor, Pilot Technician, Ghana Flying Labs – “As a geomatics engineer who harnesses the significance of space and time in providing services and storytelling, I do not hesitate to encourage other ladies (mostly younger) to dare the status quo and explore the numerous opportunities available and make the most out of them.”
Pascalina Awelana Abadum, Pilot Technician, Ghana Flying Labs – “It is not just the maps that matters. It’s who makes the maps; and who tells the stories of mapping too. Those who lead the mapping and storytelling also matter, as do those who get powerful due to the mapping and storytelling. As a Geo lover, I am constantly contributing to the science of mapmaking and storytelling, inspiring others through it and growing in it each passing day.”
Anne Nderitu, Drone repair and maintenance, Kenya Flying Labs – “I am passionate about using technology to solve problems for the African continent. Using drones to create innovative solutions to different sectors like healthcare, disaster management and agriculture is a great honour and opportunity for me. I hope to inspire younger girls that their work can have positive impact on the lives of people.”
Sharon Telewa, Payload Operator, Kenya Flying Labs – “I am doing my best to smash the negative stereotypes about what a woman should be or what a woman can achieve. I aim to fearlessly pursue and achieve my goals in life. In the process, I want to hold the door open for other women through mentorship and advocacy.”
Ilham Zerrouk, R&D Engineer, Computer Vision, Morocco Flying Labs – “All women participate in the development of our world, each in her own field. I am one of them, and I want to leave a positive imprint in the field of research, my field of work.”
Virginie Uwimana, Assistant coordinator and PR Officer, Namibia Flying Labs – “It’s not always easy for girls to pursue a career in STEM when there are no local role models, to not only show them that they can, but also how to do it. It’s so easy to get lost in the age-old stereotypes that certain fields are meant for men, especially when role models show up for one event once a year but the stereotypes remain for the other 364 days of the year. Growing up, my father spent so much time exploring with me and teaching me science. He paved the way and sparked my interest in engineering long before I knew the word existed.
“For this reason, I am actively involved in showing girls various career options and the road they need to follow in order to achieve their goals. My involvement includes, exposing primary school girls to prospects in agriculture, redistributing textbooks to schools in need, as well as organising youth programs and camps. However, I cannot do this alone; I am a member of the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) Namibia Chapter and Namibia Flying Labs where I have been blessed to work with so many amazing women and men who share a similar passion.”
Kabuba Namukokoba, R&D officer, Namibia Flying Labs – “I strongly believe in personal growth and development, which is my driving force towards my interactions with other young women. It is very important for one to develop different skills that can help them navigate the different aspects of their lives. I share this message on my YouTube channel and give my own insights. Having worked with the Miss Namibia organisation and the Ministry of Youth in highlighting the different issues that the Namibian child faces, I have been able to create a domino effect of raising awareness to issues such as teenage pregnancy and mental health.”
Grace Owoseni, Communication Officer, Nigeria Flying Labs – “They say Effective Communication solves a large percentage of human problems. I, focusing on a career in advertising, branding and communications would endeavour to strategically communicate people’s and brands’ intentions to the public digitally as well as traditionally, not leaving out the technical space, it’s evolution and essence.”
Afolabi Olajumoke, Project Manager, Nigeria Flying Labs – “A bad fruit drop amidst the good ones will spoil the rest with time. A continuous display of good character, positivity, giving attitude, mutual respect, eagerness to learn more and give more to the society will impact those close to me in essence impacting the world. A positive change in the world start from me.”
Awoyelu Omodademu Princess, Data scientist and GIS Specialist, Nigeria Flying Labs – “I pursued a career in tech, a world mainly dominated by men, to support societal development and prove to the girl-child that women can excel in tech.”
Famusudo Oluwatomiwo Esther, Project Assistance, Nigeria Flying Labs – “One thing I would do to make the world a better place for women is to support every woman I get to have an encounter with, support their career, their talent, their education, their great ideas and opinions. I believe the world can be a better place for women if we support each other. My quote: A strong woman accepts both criticism and compliments graciously knowing that it takes both sun and rain for a flower to grow.”
Adja Aminata Mbengue, Project Coordinator and Assistant to the Director, Senegal Flying Labs – “There is a Mexican proverb that says, the house does not stand on the ground but in a woman’s hands. Women have an opportunity to positively impact the world around them. To act with strength, respect and above all intelligently. It is also going beyond the limits that have been set and to tell myself that nothing is impossible. This is why I sow all around me the seeds of confidence and empathy to show all women that we can do anything in this world.”
Samuella Faulkner, Managing Director, Sierra Leone Flying Labs – “There is a major confidence gap between men and women. A lot of women have the competencies and capabilities to achieve great things but they mostly struggle with self-belief and confidence and therefore cannot achieve their dreams. As a leader I seek to be a role model to inspire women in encouraging them to believe in themselves and bring their essence in everything that they do. I encourage them to always keep doing their best and take full control of their lives.”
Unis Lebbie, GIS Analyst, Sierra Leone Flying Labs – “My first step towards contributing to a positive change in the world is working on myself and being the change I want to see. This is inclusive of leading by example, being a good influence and motivation, more especially to women. Over the past years, I have been involved in mentoring young kids, supervising their school work and providing assistance and coaching when needed.
For me this is the way to go, and I believe in the saying, Catch them when they are young. In my country what is lacking in schools and some homes is coaching towards making a good career choice. That is why I always give my best at sharing my experience as a woman in STEM, letting them know that if I can do it they can do it too.”
Regine Noel, Software Engineering and Project Assistant Haiti Flying Labs – “We are aware that women play an important role in the development and progress of society. Without women, there would be neither humanity nor society. For this, my main contribution to making the world a better place for women is to sensitize the world on women’s rights and promote the development of women in order to help them and encourage them to go even higher, even further because the sky is the limit. Building a better world for all through education, training and development.”
Tinah Mutabazi, Director Uganda Flying Labs – “Robotics technology never ceases to fascinate me. As women on this beautiful day let’s make another step forward and splash a little pink in the grey dominated space. This will give entire story of robotics a balanced blend of abilities, together we can make a difference!”
Lafifa Jamal, Director Bangladesh Flying Labs – “In Bangladesh, there are some reasons behind the poor involvement of women in STEM which are socio-economic barriers such as lack of visible women leaders, lack of proper guidelines and support, fear of uncertain career etc.
“To pull out from these barriers, we launched a program titled as “#MissingDaughter” which aims to bring out girls and women in STEM, motivating and encouraging them to participate in the related events and thus build up their career in STEM. I do share positivity, arrange programming camp for girls, share the stories of inspiring women, create networking opportunities, work on the issues of women harassment in cyber world to bring positive changes for women.”
Ruchi Saxena, Director India Flying Labs – “I truly believe that women have the greatest power of all – the power to love and care unconditionally. As leaders, they have the power to use empathy to guide mega developments to be more responsible, ethical and safe. Through our platform, Drones for Daughters, we are creating a model for girls and women to take lead tech-based development and have an equal representation in projects that impact the world at large.”
Yayoi Eguchi, Project Assistant, Japan Flying Labs – “Sharing my experience, I’d like to support next generation to think and practice gender equality through workshops of drones.”
Shikha Thapa Magar, Research Director, Nepal Flying Labs – “I come from women head household, where all decision is made by women. So, certainly this has given me inborn capability to voice my rights and has always attracted me to work on social issue related to women, whether helping them brand their local product or promote their skill.
“I have certainly been blessed to work on events related to women empowerment where, we tried to bring the stories of women entrepreneurs from developing countries such as Nepal and Afghanistan. Similarly, I am working on event to celebrate International Women’s Day to highlight the gaps specially in the frontier technology that remain for women in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation region. I am mainly working on bring stories of young global women leaders to bring impact to other women.”
Sophia-Joy Soli, Labs Coordinator Papua New Guinea Flying – “Give time to listen to the small person – the dull, ignorant and frail, she too has a story to tell. Respect, justice, fairness, service to those disadvantaged should not be by choice. If I can give these to a shy child less privileged; if my humble work enables her social mobility so she can stand tall, grounded in her abilities and her voice amongst the illustrious; then that is contribution enough to me.”
Ana Beltran, Senior Data Analyst and Certified Drone Pilot, Panama Flying Labs and WeRobotics – “Contributing to the training of young people and adults in the use of drones in a responsible and exciting way.”
Dania Montenegro, Coordinator Panama Flying Labs – “Promoting and inspiring other women to study non-traditional careers such as nautical science engineering, and now at Flying Labs Panama inspiring other women to be drone pilots, data analysts, through programs such as geonauts, and a use of technology in an ethical and responsible way. “
Mitzi Castillo, Administrative Consultant, Panama Flying Labs – “The women in my family have been an example of struggle and deep sensitivity to everyone’s needs. I feel that I have to promote the use of technology among women without fear because we have the sensitivity to use it for the good of the communities. The women of Flying Labs are proof of the female genius in favour of social innovation. “
Leigh Lunas, Geospatial Technology Expert, Philippines Flying Labs – “I contribute by creating safe spaces for women to grow professionally, ask questions, and challenge stereotypes. Women should be taking decision-making roles and put themselves on the map to represent and empower local communities.”
Diana Banda, Community Engagement Lead and PR Officer, Zimbabwe Flying Labs – “Dare to live the future now… You can! With the data collected from drones, you can help decision makers make informed decisions about the future and act on it Now! As women we need to be the changemakers; lead from the front and make a real impact to the world. The future is bright. The future is drone technology.”
Uyangaa Munkhbat, Project and Community Coordinator, WeRobotics – “I contribute by inspiring young girls in my country, especially those in rural areas and motivate them to pursue their dream by sharing my experiences and passion. I want to create opportunities for them and help them to unlock their potentials, so they can go out to the world and build their dreams!”
Amrita Lal, Youth Coordinator & GIS Support, WeRobotics – “My contribution is to directly and indirectly helping young girls in their quest for better education through content creation, mentoring and raising awareness on available opportunities.”
Wee Kheng Yuen, Head of Finance, WeRobotics – “I strive for positive change through education and interaction with every human being that I cross paths with, regardless of age, sex, race, culture, language or religion.”
Klaudyna Wrochna, Drone and Data Systems Specialist, WeRobotics – “I contribute by inspiring other women and girls in the FPV (First Person View) drone community by sharing my experience. Being part of a male-dominated hobby is challenging and rewarding at the same time!”
Joyce Monsees, Head of HR and Administration, WeRobotics – “As a business professional, I’m dedicated to being dynamic, vibrant, and full of potential no matter what age. I strive to weave the unique energy, compassion, and strength that women possess into global team and HR management.”
Huguette Diakabana, Board Member, WeRobotics – “I make sure that people are at the centre of every solution, project, or program I launch. I see technology as an enabler, which drives my professional mission to connect people with technologies that allow them to access resources, knowledge, and opportunities that improve their lives. I also use my access to spotlight and champion people who are making a difference in their communities, with hopes to open new doors for them when necessary.
More importantly, I make sure everyone I collaborate with knows that I value their contribution by creating inclusive atmospheres in everything I do.”
Sonja Betschart, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, WeRobotics – “I lead with my heart (and let my heart lead me) to co-create a space where women leaders around the planet can inspire other women, girls, boys and men to take an active role and contribute to the Tech4Good space. Working every day with the amazing women (and men) of WeRobotics and the Flying Labs network shows me that my heart has led me on the right path.”
Catherine Saurais, Board Member, WeRobotics – “My contribution over my 40-year career has been to lead by example and demonstrating intensity and fulfilment on all fronts: family, professionally and socially. And by recruiting and mentoring talented women in many different roles and stages of their career and taking part in senior women forums to put pressure on the glass ceiling. Today, I continue to mentor women and support organisations active in promoting girls’ access to education. As a happy grandmother, I also support my daughter in managing her challenging work/life balance, just as my mother did and accountable women over the world do.”