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Per aspera ad astra: Turkmen girls in the semifinals of the international project

14.06.2023 | 02:35 |
 Per aspera ad astra: Turkmen girls in the semifinals of the international project

For the second year, the Technovation Girls project has been operating in Turkmenistan — a global initiative that encourages creative girls from all over the world to create innovations and improve the life of society.


The second season of the program turned out to be even more fruitful than the previous one: this year four teams from Turkmenistan reached the world semifinals: Eco Girls (Smart Nest project), The Mission: Possible (PharmaShop application), Future Girls and Gravity Waves (ProgresSearch and Medtrain developments). A total of 32 teams took part in the season - 8 groups each from the beginners and juniors divisions and 16 teams of the seniors category.


The girls did their best: 12 weeks of training on the project platform, regular team meetings with mentors, group sessions, regional meetings, training camps, and, of course, work on projects. Market research, surveys, development of own applications, shooting two videos (pitch and demo), a user adaptation plan and a business plan - in short, there was a lot of work.


And so, at the end of the season (May 2023), a Regional Technovation Girls Turkmenistan Pitch Day was held for the first time on the territory of the Ashgabat International School, where teams presented their projects to a panel of judges-specialists from different fields — from representatives of the IT sphere itself to the SDGs and business experts. Maral Hudaybergenova, regional ambassador of the project in Turkmenistan, in an interview with ORIENT correspondent shared:


— The first day of the pitch in Turkmenistan is a great achievement for us. It was necessary to meet certain requirements so that as many of our girls as possible made it to the semifinals. Compared to last season, the results have doubled – today we already have 4 projects that have been submitted to the world judging. Now we are waiting for further results: the names of the finalists will be announced online on June 30. Finalist teams are invited to defend their projects at the World Summit in Silicon Valley, which will be held in October. The winners will receive a monetary reward for the implementation of their projects in their homeland.


— Tell us how the girls felt after the announcement of the semi-finalists?


— Of course, first of all, a little shock. The winners of the regional pitch did not immediately realize that they had chosen their team, but then, of course, they were very happy. Thanks to the support of sponsors – local companies and international organizations, all participants received prizes, and teams from the regions were able to take part in the Ashgabat event in person. But I want to note that Technovation is not just a competition, there are no winners and losers. All participants are part of a global community of like–minded people striving to change the world for the better. The idea itself is to rally these young talents and help them implement their ideas. All the girls who came to this project are already winners, because they are doing a great job to improve the life of society. And those who did not make it to the semifinals should not be upset, everything is still ahead, because the main thing in any project is experience, new friends and knowledge.


— Girls continue to contribute after the end of the program, right?


— Of course. As I said, Technovation is a community, and support is important in any community. This year, the graduates of last season participated in the project as mentors and student ambassadors, helping to hold team meetings, regional events, and just support the girls and help them with difficulties. For example, at the beginning of this season, our graduate organized a training camp for all teams on artificial intelligence and its use, which helped many groups in the implementation of their projects. We are currently recruiting for summer camp to prepare the girls for the next, already the third season of Technovation in Turkmenistan. Recruitment runs until June 30. Girls aged from 8 to 18 can participate in the project, the main thing is motivation and desire!


— What motivates girls to work so hard?


— Firstly, it is a desire to change the world for the better. This idea is embedded in the main message of Technovation: "Empower a Girl to Change the World!" (Give girls the opportunity to change the world!). The participants work hard on their projects, but I would also like to mention separately the "invisible wizards" of the project – our mentors, volunteers, ambassadors, parents of girls. They were the ones who supported our young changemakers when they gave up, learned new things with them, practiced programming and public speaking skills, and assisted in organizing all events. I will note one more detail: we had mentors and volunteers not only here in Turkmenistan, but also abroad. Online, we were supported by more than 10 countries around the world: USA, Canada, Germany, Peru, New Zealand, Great Britain and other countries. Despite the significant time difference, they still sought to help the girls in their endeavors. I would like to say a special "thank you!" to all of them. Also this season we were supported by our first student ambassadors - girls who themselves went through the program and wanted to share their experience, knowledge, skills. The most active of them were encouraged by the program: Maral Hajieva (coordinated 10 teams in the Lebap region) and Kamilla Yusupova (supported the girls from Dashoguz) received laptops as a gift from Technovation.


— What else can you add about the girls?


— I would like to note that the program has a positive impact on community members around the world, and Turkmenistan is no exception. Girls use the acquired skills in a variety of fields: for example, as you know, this year the first Ashgabat Scientific fair, and it was organized by our creative participants. Also, the graduate of the first season of the project was a speaker at the DevFest'22 developer festival, organized by Google Developers Group and Women Techmakers in December last year. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years we will see how they launch space satellites (laughs). I wish good luck to all participants! Because we are girls for a change!


Saparguly MAHTUMOV

Photo: author

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