June 13, 2024
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Girls’ innovative prowess making a difference

“Growing up, I saw science-related courses and initiatives to be only for men and this mindset killed my interest in taking up a course in the science field”, said Evelyn Baah Asante Opokuaa, a past Student of the Methodist Girls’ Senior High School.

Science is often seen as a daunting subject for many female students due to societal biases. Evelyn was one such student. She had no interest in science-related courses before her senior high school years. She found the subject difficult to understand and felt that it was a course solely for boys. However, her story took a dramatic turn when she took a bold step to join the Renewable Energy Club in her Senior High School.

“I noticed a gap in the Renewable Energy Club in my school and I was determined to fill that gap. With my background as an art student, I am able to tell good stories. So, I joined the club to help them explain their work from a layman’s perspective. But joining the team unearthed my passion for innovation”, Evelyn explained.

Evelyn was determined to see her newfound interest come to fruition. So, she and the team spent weeks researching and developing a waste segregation concept together.

Finally, they were able to create a working prototype of an automatic waste sorting bin to segregate metal, plastic, and organic waste.  She was thrilled with the result and knew that the innovation could make a real difference in her school if they get the needed support to advance it.

“The joy I had after we completed the innovative waste segregation bin, is a feeling I can’t express, and this changed my mind about science and innovation”, Evelyn expressed.

Supporting dreams to come alive

As the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) draws closer, it is becoming increasingly important to find innovative initiatives and ideas that can help achieve global goals. As part of efforts to support such innovative initiatives, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Coca-Cola Foundation awarded three senior high schools in Ghana a total of 9,000 US dollars through a waste innovation challenge. This is to enable the schools to implement innovative waste management projects.

With their innovative idea to build an automatic waste sorting bin to make the separation of waste easier for recycling, the Methodist Girls Senior High School emerged as the third winner. The winning prize, according to Winnifred Seibu Arthur, the Headmistress of the school, was used to purchase accessories including an inductive proximity, sensor LEDs, battery charge module, and solar panel.  

“The support from UNDP has played a key role in this institution and it has also advanced innovation among the students. The students are now developing more interest in innovating new things each day”, Winifred noted.

The benefits of the UNDP’s support, according to the Headmistress, are enormous, as the opportunity also sparked up innovation among other young girls who didn’t have an interest in the science and innovation space, just like Evelyn.

“The students now recycle the segregated waste into artefacts like flower vases, foot and armrests, and centrepieces. We are grateful to UNDP for supporting the dreams of these young girls and for advancing innovation among the girls”, Winifred added.

Setting the stage for a brighter future

Evelyn and her friends are now determined to make a real change in the world. She is proud of what she and the team have accomplished and is excited about the future. Today, that bold step in Senior High School has propelled her to pursue a degree in the social sciences at the University of Ghana.

“Everyone in my school was impressed with the team’s creativity and our dedication to making a difference on campus. This inspired me to pursue my career in the social sciences at the university”, Evelyn disclosed.

Davida Lawson who also played a key role in developing the automatic waste sorting bin expressed optimism about the future.

“I believe that young people hold the key to creating a brighter future and that innovation is the key to unlocking the potential of young people like myself. I witnessed the effects of improper waste disposal in my community and even in my school and this was disheartening. So, am happy to have joined the team to make a difference”, added Davida who is also currently pursuing Earth Science at the University of Ghana.

Undoubtedly, supporting, and breaking stereotypes among women and girls in science, innovation, and technology, is crucial in achieving sustainable development. Encouraging and empowering more women and girls to innovate or pursue careers and opportunities in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields will create a positive impact on society.

Source: UNDP

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