We caught up with the women of Mawazo, private office members at Ikigai Nairobi, to learn more about their incredible work in education, research and the empowerment of female African scholars.
What do you do?
The Mawazo (meaning ‘ideas’ in Kiswahili) Institute is a research and leadership incubator for African women with big ideas. Our mission is to support the next generation of female scholars and thought leaders in East Africa and get policymakers and the general public engaged with their work.
Mawazo works with PhD students, academics, researchers, experts and civic and public sector actors in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the social sciences and other interdisciplinary work.
Together, we create opportunities and platforms for the participation and leadership of women in STEM and the dissemination of transformative research and ideas from African researchers and thought leaders.
How are you innovating and changing the world around you through your work?
We support African women who are PhD Scholars and researchers in STEM, where women remain starkly underrepresented. In Kenya, for example, women make up less than a third of academic staff and enrolled PhD students[. Mawazo connects our grant beneficiaries with skills, grants, and opportunities needed to further their research and find homegrown solutions to local development problems.
We also strengthen the ecosystem from which innovative ideas spring from by acting as a resource center for scholars and experts across the continent. Lastly, Mawazo works tirelessly to find means for the public and policymakers to engage with the work of African researchers, experts, makers, thinkers, and innovators. Through all these efforts, we envision a world in which the voices and ideas of African women are amplified to shape the future of the continent.
In line with the IWD 2019 theme, how can other women be empowered to think equal, build smart and innovate for change?
Equality begins with giving women the same opportunities to succeed (or fail) as their male counterparts. Mawazo not only supports women researchers and scholars in developing academic and professional skills but also engages with women in all areas of our work. The majority of our staff, external consultants, trainers, and experts are African women. We also work closely with male counterparts and global partners who share our commitment to strengthening local knowledge ecosystems and understand the critical role of women in achieving Africa’s future prosperity.
To build smart and innovate for change, Mawazo believes that we have to take individual action towards equality by celebrating women’s achievements every day, bringing attention to their continued exclusion and creating spaces in which they can flourish.
How does the Ikigai Space and community help you accomplish your mission?
Ikigai Nairobi has given our team and Scholars a collaborative and inviting space that supports the development of ideas and interaction with other creative and mission-driven companies and organizations. Ikigai has also provided a space for hosting our monthly PhD Scholar training and regular convenings with our partners and other stakeholders.
That Ikigai Nairobi is a women-led and run business aligns with Mawazo’s own mission of women’s empowerment!
Looking for a new coworking community? Visit Ikigai to find your new workspace, friends and potential partners.