Last year, Rwandan social entrepreneur Marie Claire Murekatete joined us at the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) to accept her Change Agent Abie Award. This Abie Award honors an outstanding international woman who has created or expanded opportunities for girls and women in technology, especially those in developing countries.
Discover how Marie Claire’s experience at GHC impacted her and her work, and learn how you can nominate someone for an Abie Award. This piece has been edited for clarity and length.
By Marie Claire Murekatete
I am eager to create change for women in technology, which is why I spend most of my time working on different projects such as Refugees Girls Need You and GIRLS IN ICT Rwanda. I always welcome the opportunity to empower young girls and share my experiences with other women in tech.
One of my most valuable experiences was attending the 2017 Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC 17), where I was awarded the Change Agent Abie Award. I not only gained useful information about tech during this three-day celebration, but also made a lot of connections that will help me in the future.
Knowledge is Power
The world of technology is always changing, so it’s important to keep up with new terminology and techniques. As a woman from a developing country with limited access to new technology, this can be a very daunting task. Attending GHC, however, allowed me to learn about many advances in tech, and hear about groundbreaking research being done in my own field.
I also met with peers who, like me, are leaders in tech. We spoke about our struggles and shared our experiences with one other. It was reassuring to know that others were going through the same challenges, and helpful to hear different approaches to these issues.
Working Together to Support Women in Tech
GHC also provided me with the opportunity to discuss my initiatives with others. As an influential tech woman in Rwanda, people often ask me to present my initiatives and projects in formal settings to different partners. I received a lot of good feedback from the people I spoke with at GHC; since they all came from different backgrounds, speaking to them gave me many new and fresh perspectives.
I also spoke with members of various organizations and representatives of tech companies that are likewise dedicated to supporting women. At Refugee Girls Need You, we are currently in touch with some of these new contacts to see if we can build solid partnerships.
I continued making connections even after GHC ended. Various local partners, including PLAN and UNICEF, approached me to offer support for Refugee Girls Need You. PLAN will provide IT jobs to 15 refugee girls who graduated from our mentorship program; UNICEF promised to fund 23 of our graduates to attend universities and colleges in Rwanda.
A Life-Changing Experience
GHC 17 was such an inspirational and motivating event, and one that I will forever be grateful for. Being an Abie Award winner was a magnificent life-changing experience. It brought me strength, credibility, and recognition as a leader in my field. The lessons I learned and the connections I made at GHC will allow me to further support young women in tech, help them achieve their dreams, and assure them that there are endless possibilities ahead.
Do you know someone who is making a difference for women in tech? Nominate her for an Abie Award! Nominations close March 1, 2018, 5 p.m. PT.