In Moldova, the technology field is perceived as a non-traditional occupation for women. Gender stereotyping continues to paint girls as less logical than boys or less inclined to studying maths, affecting not only their future prospects but also their self-esteem. At school, there is a lack of emphasis on information technology despite the fact that information and communication technology (ICT) is one of Moldova’s fastest growing sectors.
Moldova has taken steps to address gender disparity through a series of legislative measures, but according to a UN report, the impact of these laws is negligible due to a lack of financial resources and accountability mechanisms.
Women still occupy lower status and lower paid jobs. In many cases, employees are reluctant to employ women of childbearing age in order to avoid maternity leave costs. Moldova ranks as one of the poorest countries in Europe. Political and economic instability has created a difficult employment environment and more so for women. Vulnerable and marginalised women in Moldova’s poor rural communities have an even smaller chance of breaking into the digital economy.
With such poor employment prospects ahead, girls are less likely to choose to study technology, creating a vicious cycle that only sustains their exclusion.
TEKEDU was founded in 2013 to promote the inclusion of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and enhancing ICT skills among young people. Based in the Moldovan capital, Chișinău, TEKEDU works mainly with girls aged 16-20 around the country to equip them with the technological skills and tools to work in STEM. This is done through workshops and advocacy.
The organisation runs camps that teach girls new technologies such as 3D printing and robotics and aims to raise girls’ interest in technology. At the end of the summer camp, participants become ambassadors of the programme and organise activities in their regions.
An annual forum is organised every year, which brings together all those who participated in TEKEDU events throughout the year; parents, partners of the programme, school administrators and supporters of the programme. The forum is an opportunity to showcase the organisation’s achievements for the year and participants get to share their stories and discuss future plans.
TEKEDU uses an innovative approach to promoting women and girls in STEM with a strong girl-centred set of programmes. 100 per cent of direct beneficiaries are girls.