December Issue 2014

Page 142

Born in Nigeria to Indian and Tanzanian parents, Neema Iyer is a Uganda-based program manager working for Text to Change, an organization that uses ICT tools to reach people, start dialogues and create opportunities in developing countries. As a life-long learner, she spent several years in the United States studying and applying concepts in public health before returning to Africa to work in the exciting field of health technology. Viewing the world from the lens of three different continents that she has called home, Neema brings a colorful perspective to her work and passions. She is particularly interested in social entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment and the elimination of violence against women. With this in mind, she started Sum of Girls in 2013 to empower young girls and women through technology by providing creative and innovative training, mentorship and equipment. Neema deeply enjoys creative arts, connecting with people and is an aspiring marathoner.

As leadership is often task oriented, what is the assignment of women's leadership in social entrepreneurship? I believe that the assignment of present women leaders in any sphere of life is to inspire and serve as a role model to the next generation of leaders. A study by famed economist Esther DuFlo found that female leaders have an immense positive influence on the attitudes, ambitions and achievements of young girls in their communities. Women in power have the ability to make girls dream bigger. Women leaders have the task to lead by example and use every opportunity to teach and mentor other women to reach their full potential. As such, we should look at other upcoming women as a source of collaboration, support and learning together in social entrepreneurship rather than as competition. It is exciting to see women rising throughout the world and we need to celebrate these women who have succeeded in their fields and have been trailblazers for others in their areas.