My name is Ndakhona Bashingi. I am 26years old, raised between
the villages of Nshakashogwe and Makuta in the Central district of
Botswana.  I am a Civil Engineering
Technologist, currently working towards completing my Masters in Civil Engineering,
Transportation Engineering with a focus on Information Communication
Technologies and public transportation with the Central University of
Technology in South Africa. I am currently the chairperson of the Women in
Engineering and Information Technology student association for the university.
I am the founder of EngineeringFairy , which aims to promote
STEM, mostly focusing on engineering to young girls in Botswana. The
organization promotes engineering and provides educational, social and emotional
support to girls through tutoring and mentoring.  I describe myself as an ambition driven, determined
and hardworking young woman.
Determination: I am determined to succeed in whatever
mission or journey I start no matter how long it takes.  I started EngineeringFairy over two years
back, but due to lack of enough people willing to join me, the initiative
became just an idea. I was determined to make it work, so I kept on
consistently pestering strangers on social networks to join me, I’d pitch the
idea, everybody would respond “great initiative I’d like to be part of”. I’d
arrange meetings and book venues, some would RSVP –“attending” only to decline
30 minutes to the meeting. Got crushed, many meetings cancelled. some after I travelled
to Botswana just for the meetings. During the course of that time, I decided,
well, we live in a technological era, let me just make the internet my friend.
I created Facebook and Twitter pages and just be “internet-based”, created a
website and thought if I never find people I’ll fly solo. Even though I
sometimes host online chats where I end up talking to myself, get turned down
for features on the website I am more than determined to make the initiative a
success. I recently found enough people who join me for formally registering as
an N.G.O, because I did not give up.
Perseverance: I believe if you want something bad enough
you will persistently and consistently keep doing anything in your power to
achieve that despite difficulties.  I have
had to persevere throughout my academic journey. When I did my diploma, I
failed a subject a few times but I did not quit or change courses because I
knew what I wanted, I just kept telling myself I will get it next semester ?  and I finally did and sailed smoothly
thereafter. When I was gathering data for my dissertation, I developed some
nagging skills. This happened when I had to get information from that one
person who was the only one in a position to give it to you but always had
reasons why they cannot. Getting to someone’s office at 7am only to leave at
4:30pm without getting what you came for to me meant come back again tomorrow
7am until they give you what you are asking for, not go home and never come
Learning: Never stop learning. Education is very
important, so is every day learning from informal settings. One might decide at
some point in time to stop formally educating themselves, but we learn new
things every day. Learn a word, learn a language, learn a trade (other than your
speciality), learn to do something new at every chance that presents itself.
There are free online lessons and courses on basically everything these days,
in a few weeks you can learn how to use a software, how to build an
application, learn about climate change, politics etc. I attend talks, seminars
and conferences even when the themes aren’t really my field of interest, just
to learn.
My mother. Her struggles and the strength at which she dealt and
overcame them made me.
Nyemudzo Dumuwa: My mother has had the most influence on me as a
young woman as I learn from her life struggles. She handles problems with
dignity even when facing injustices. My mother has always stressed the
importance of education to me and my siblings and that has always driven me.
Dr Gaositwe Chiepe Mma Chiepe: A pioneer in Botswana politics,
she was the first female member of parliament for Botswana. She in my eyes is a
heroin. In my first 3 years of primary school, she was the minister of
education and she had a great impact on the education system and rights and
access to education by all children in the country. 
Naomi Climer: She is the first woman to become president of the
Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in 2015 after 144years of its
existence. Her courage and ambition to getting more women into STEM inspires
me, and in a way influences me to motivate the upcoming generations and
challenge the perceptions in STEM. 

Over the next 5 years, my main goal is seeing EngineeringFairy
(@Eng_Fairy , http://engineeringfairy.wix,com/engineeringfairy ) grow to reach
young girls across the country. The gender gap in engineering and other STEM
fields is a great concern and I plan on using this NGO to help bridge the gap
in my country.  Even though in Botswana
children do not have to make choices in school as to Mathematics and Sciences (
I believe this is a great is a privilege), we still have to attract them to
engineering and I plan to make a difference in the next five years.
As I’m currently waiting for my Master’s results, I plan on
enrolling for my phD and completing it in the next five years.
 I recently started an
engineering company which I plan to grow over the coming years.  Unemployment in Botswana is high, which means
as graduates we have to explore our entrepreneurial abilities, learn where we
can, create employment for ourselves and other graduates.
Africa is still very stereotypically traditional and most of
these traditional stereotypes do not favour women at all. African girls are
brought up to be abiding by biased rules and societal norms that in most cases
do not benefit them. African women are faced with challenges of living their
lives fully while pleasing patriarchal societies.  Women are considered “children”. I recently
listened to an interview where a mother of an abused child said she had no say
in the incident as “She is just a child”. African mothers cannot protect their
own children because traditionally, men speak for them. We need to be vocal in
educating and empowering girls and women about their rights.
Working-class African women in male-dominated sectors are faced
with challenges of proving themselves adequate for jobs. Being overlooked in
boardrooms and on-site by colleagues and clients, being paid less and having to
deal with being asked to make tea or take minutes when they aren’t part of your
job description.  One of EngineeringFairy’s
objectives is to provide an environment for social and emotional support for
female engineers as we have realized it can be hard for new graduates to “fit
in” to the working place. (which they do not necessarily have to). 
I read books, take short courses online (the internet should be
your best friend when you search for the right content, so much good stuff in
there). I also get maybe more than enough sleep especially when I need to
unwind or get tension off. 
Our traditional and cultural set-up seldom celebrates us,
therefore, we need to inspire each other as African women.    Statistics indicate that there are more
women than men in the world, but we are nowhere to be found in influential
positions. We need to aim for those powerful, inspirational, decision-making
positions to make an impact and pave the way for coming generations of girls to
women. We need to get up there, inspire young girls and women, empower them and
celebrate those who made it possible. We also need to celebrate our
accomplishments no matter how little some may think they are because we have
come a long way and nobody will celebrate us if we do not ourselves.
I would advocate for inclusion of women of all ages in policy
making. The majority of representatives in organisations such as the AU are
elderly people, who were raised on traditional setups and may be making
decisions influenced by tradition (and we all know how tradition isn’t really
“pro- girls and women”).  Sometimes the
decisions they make do not entirely represent the younger generations of women
and girls. We need women empowerment because we have always been left out in
policy making and implementation, using only a certain demographic to make
these decisions leaves out others too and that needs to be changed.
 Access to education is
very necessary for girls in Africa. We still have countries providing
“selective” education to children in schools based on gender, i.e. some
subjects for girls and some for boys. This limits girls and denies them a
chance at possible career opportunities in future, therefore, I’d advocate for
equal access to education for children.
Dear African Woman: Do not limit yourself based on what society
considers traditional, most of our African “traditional rules and norms” do not
benefit us.  Explore those “men’s
sectors” and once you are there do not let them dim your light through negative