Breaking down barriers
Earlier this year, Memorial University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) hosted a Kumvana Fellow as part of the organization’s annual initiative called The Kumvana Program.
The program selects dynamic African leaders, who are system-change entrepreneurs and “intrapreneurs”, as well as business leaders in their communities, to travel to Canada for an intensive four-week experience that combines participation in EWB’s national conference, leadership programming and a two-week visit with like-minded individuals and Canadian organizations.
For the first time since the program’s inception in 2010, Memorial’s EWB chapter hosted a Kumvana Fellow.
“This experience was an amazing opportunity for our Kumvana Fellow, Esther, as well as the many people and organizations she was able to interact with,” said Taylor Chalker, an executive with Memorial’s EWB chapter and co-ordinator of Memorial EWB’s Kumvana program. “Esther provided the chapter with a new perspective about the work that EWB does overseas and provided context into the challenges and conflicts of living in a less developed part of the world.”
Esther Ekua Amoako, a lecturer at one of Ghana’s leading technical universities, spent her time at Memorial interacting with various individuals and organizations.
“Esther is passionate about woman leaders, and wanted to get a better understanding of what it’s like for women working in male-dominated roles,” said Ms. Chalker. “One of the things she hoped to do is to take what she learned while in Canada and incorporate that knowledge into her efforts to improve equality for women and girls in Ghana.”
While here, Ms. Ekua Amoako spoke at the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Statoil Speaker Series about her work to improve the financial stability and land-ownership rights of women in Ghana. She attended the MUN EWB chapter meeting and provided insight into situations such as Widowhood Rights and the politics of tribes in Northern Ghana.
Ms. Ekua Amoako also met with a group at RCMP headquarters in St. John’s and gave a short presentation about her efforts in Ghana, developing connections with various women in policing and exploring the struggles they experience while working in a male-dominated workplace. She also connected with Dr. John Quiacoe, a professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and former dean of the faculty, to learn about his views on equality in engineering and in Newfoundland, as well as his work in Africa.
The MUN EWB chapter participates in numerous national initiatives. The local chapter recently hosted a panel for political candidates and raised funds through Run to End Poverty and Beat the Crap out of Poverty.