"I feel happy to devote a lot of my time to science, my motivation to develop computer skills was to discover new things about technology," says Stefany, a 14-year-old girl who lives in the Cochabamba department of Bolivia and currently goes to high school.
I feel happy to devote a lot of my time to science, my motivation to develop computer skills was to discover new things about technology.
Stefany has enrolled herself in lots of different activities available to her. She competes at her school science olympics, is a part of her school's computer team and participates in Plan International Bolivia's ARRIBA project, which promotes the sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents.
Stefany recognises that there are prejudices in society regarding the participation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), since these areas are seen by society as exclusively for men. However, in her family she always found support and motivation to dedicate herself to science. "At home they never said no to me," she says. On the contrary, her family reacted well when she decided to pursue computer science and encouraged her to develop her potential.
She believes that people within her community used to find it a bit strange for girls to like technology, but now they take it well. However, she still feels afraid that some people will still not like what she does and judge her for it. "I think that in order for us girls to continue dedicating ourselves to these areas we need more support from society, leaving behind macho thoughts," says Stefany.
"Plan International helped me to pursue my dreams and to stop worrying about what others say," she says. She believes that more girls should be encouraged to pursue STEM fields by giving them more support and reassurance.
Plan International helped me to pursue my dreams and to stop worrying about what others say.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the activities she is so passionate about were cancelled. She had to do home schooling instead of going to school and the science olympics did not take place, nor did she have opportunities to pursue her passion for technology. Despite the bad times, Stefany recommends to all girls, "Not to give up, but to pursue their dreams and show the world what they can do."
ARRIBA Project is implemented by Plan International Bolivia, with the financial support of the Canadian Government. It supports adolescents and youth to gain awareness of their sexual and reproductive rights in order to make informed decisions, and it promotes the prevention of adolescent pregnancy as well as the reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality. The ARRIBA Project also works to eliminate gender-based violence and promotes equality.