ATHENA Project Final Conference : Entrepreneurship as a path to socio-economic inclusion of migrant women

On the 16th of March 2023 Athena project partners organize the final project conference on the topic of “Entrepreneurship as a path to socio-economic inclusion of migrant women” to present and discuss with European stakeholders and policy makers the project results including the policy recommendations and actions plans to be implemented to support and improve the inclusion of migrant women entrepreneurs. The event will hybrid (in presence and online) and simultaneously translated to German and Spanish.


The event will be moderated by Ms Katja Legisa, Entrepreneurship Director at the Digital Leadership Institute 9:30h – 10:00h Registration 10:00h – 10:15h Introduction & Welcome
  • Mr Stefano Mallia, President of the Employers’ Group of the European Economic and Social Committee
  • Mr Pablo Morales, Coordinator of the Athena project, Chamber of Commerce of Seville
10:15h – 11:00h – Athena Project outcomes and findings: 11:00h – 11:30h Coffee break 11:30h – 12:30h – Expert panel discussion 1: Policy priorities for the inclusion of migrant women entrepreneurs What actions should the EU take to facilitate the integration of migrant women entrepreneurs? Policy recommendations from the experts and ATHENA project Moderated by Ms Cheryl Novak, Research Associate at the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy
  • Ms Maria-Helena De Felipe, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee and Spokesperson of the SMEs category
12:30h – 14:00h – Networking lunch 14:00h – 14:45h – Expert panel discussion 2: Opportunities or obstacles? Recommendations addressing the challenges faced by migrant women entrepreneurs What steps should be taken and by which stakeholders in order to facilitate the financial and legal integration of new migrant women entrepreneurs?
  • Ms Mamen Soria, Entrepreneurship expert at the Chamber of Commerce of Seville
  • Ms Loubna Azghoud, Expert in digital economy, gender equality and entrepreneurship strategy
  • Ms Siham Zarkan, Project Manager at SheDIDIT
  • Ms Tina Marquart, consultant at Jumpp Ihr Sprungbrett in die Selbständigkeit, Frauenbetriebe e. V.
  • Ms Rosy Cascella, Camera di Commercio Bari – Progetto Futurae
14:45h – 15:30h – Success stories of women entrepreneurs Moderated by Ms Loredana Bucseneanu, Development Director at the Digital Leadership Institute
  • Ms Sofiia Shevchuk, Founder of VONA, Consultant, Researcher and Project Manager in Climate, Gender and Security
  • Ms Magna Solange Dos Santos , Entrepreneur in the hospitality sector
  • Ms Albina Savciuc, Entrepreneur in the sustainable jewellery sector
  • Ms Viviana Santana, Entrepreneur in external services to hotels
  • Blessing Ayomonsuru, Entrepreneur in trading ethnic food products
15:30h – 16:00h – AMIF future opportunities Focus group Moderated by Mr Pablo Morales, Coordinator of the Athena project, Chamber of Commerce of Seville
  • Mr Juan Guerrero Caballero – General Manager and Head of the Department of International R& D Projects at INCOMA
  • Ms Ursula Hoenich – Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission
  • Ms Carmela Cotrone – Policy Expert
16:00 – 16:15 Closing of the conference

Please note that registration is mandatory for attending the event: Your personal data will be shared with the European Economic and Social Committee Visitors Office in order to grant you access to the building on the day of the event.

The event is organized with the support of the Employers’ Group of the European Economic and Social Committee . For more info about the project visit and the Facebook and Instagram page.

SAVE THE DATE: Girls and Women Connecting for Environmental Change – Roundtable Discussions

Join us on the 16th of February 2023 for the event GIRLS AND WOMEN CONNECTING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE – ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS to exchange ideas and best practices on how to foster girls’ and young women’s sense of initiative for environmental action and improve their active citizenship skills and social innovation mindsets. Ultimately, the aim is to create synergies and open up opportunities for collaboration among the participants.

What you’ll gain?

  • Brainstorm with experts and practitioners on key strategies promoting greater participation of girls and young women in strategic, innovative ESTEAM (Entrepreneurship & Arts powered by STEM) sectors.
  • Gain insight into the experiences and lessons learned by other organizations and stakeholders and take these best practices back to your community.
  • Find opportunities of collaboration with a wide network of similar organizations.

What is the format of the roundtable discussions?

There will be four discussion tables set-up, each covering a topic (explained below). Participants can chose the tables they want to join for a 30 minutes discussion, and share their knowledge and suggestions on how to empower girls and young women as changemakers in our society. Participants are encouraged to be as specific as possible, to raise issues that arise in their day-today activities, and actionable ideas for better paths forwards. A follow-up session will present the main takeaways from the roundtable discussions.

Key outcomes

  • Following the event, we will gather the key insights in a Recommendations Paper and share it with all participants and stakeholders in our network.
  • Engage and connect community members to collaborate for future initiatives for the benefit of girls and women.
  • Opportunities for networking with like-minded professionals.

Discussion topics

TOPIC 1: Skills development for youth towards the Digital and Green transformations

Questions to consider: as civil society organizations and providers of non-formal education, how can we ensure young people gain a swift access to the requisite skills to enable them to be part of the solutions and to navigate the social, economic, and environmental challenges the world faces? What kind of skills and knowledge should we focus on? And how to include the gender lens in this process?

TOPIC 2: Gender mainstreaming in youth strategies

Questions to consider: What are the main challenges and opportunities of gender mainstreaming? How to strengthen the dialogue between civil society and policy makers to integrate gender perspective into the preparation, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, regulatory measures and spending programmes?

TOPIC 3: Best practices for impact: Youth – Gender inclusion – Environmental action

Questions to consider: What actionable ways to build gender equality and sustainability? What are the practices and tools you identified in your activities to improve the capabilities of civil society organizations for supporting more effectively their target groups and increase their impact?

TOPIC 4: Opportunities for cooperation for organizations working on youth, gender and environmental topics

Questions to consider: what are the needs of civil society organizations in terms of skills development, engagement capabilities or funding? what opportunities for collaboration are there and how to ensure they are accessible for all stakeholders?


5:00 PM: Welcome and presentation of the We4Change project 5:30 PM: Roundtable Discussions 6:00 PM: Discussion on the main takeaways from each roundtable 6:30 PM: Networking dinner


Download here the brochure of the event. For more information about the “We4Change: Girls and Women Connecting for Environmental Change” visit the project website:

Save the dates: We4Change Changemakers Fest is coming to Belgium!

As part of the We4Change “Girls and Women connecting for environmental change” Erasmus+ international program, in November and December 2022, the We4Change Changemakers Fest is coming to Belgium!  Three We4Change Changemaking events, will bring girls and young women together with experts, trainers and business coaches, in order to develop their digital and innovation skills, increase civic engagement and unlock their changemaking potential to address climate change and drive environmental transformation. What are the We4Change Changemaking events? We4Change Changemakers are “hack for good” events where young women with an entrepreneurial mindset, trainers and subject experts come together during a two-day intense marathon in order to solve specific challenges posed by climate and environmental change encountered in their communities. The events include hands-on activities, training on digital, innovation and environmental awareness skills, problem-solving and co-creation of prototypes, as well as a pitching session by the changemaking teams. Who can participate? The events are open to all girls and women* who want to contribute to prosperous, cohesive and sustainable societies! Participants are not required to have prior digital or innovation skills. Your curiosity and commitment to address the challenges posed by climate and environmental change are all you need! *Anyone who identifies as a girl or woman. How will you benefit from this event?
  • You will learn new skills and information to bring into your daily life: a mindset to stay open to change and innovate, learn about how climate change affects particularly girls and women, what solutions are out there to tackle them and how can you be more active in supporting your local community;
  •  You will acquire digital, business development and innovation skills through hands-on activities, co-creation of prototypes and pitching workshops;
  • Join an international community of like-minded girls and women, including experts, activists, coaches and mentors dedicated to supporting you to achieve your changemaking potential.
When are the We4Change Changemaking events taking place? The We4Change Changemakers Fest is organized as a series of three events with specific themes linked to climate and environmental challenges:
  • 19-20 November 2022 – We4Change: Girls and Women Connecting for Sustainable Consumption
  • 26-27 November 2022 – We4Change: Girls and Women Connecting for Smart Cities and Mobility
  • 3-4 December 2022 – We4Change: Girls and Women Connecting for Clean Energy & Resource Efficiency
What is the format of the We4Change Changemaking events? Below is the general format for each event. Participants will briefly receive the exact agenda with the name of the trainers and speakers for the event they register for. Day 1
  • 9:30: Registration and coffee
  • 10:00 – 11:00 : Introduction of the event thematic by Digital Leadership Institute & inspirational speech
  • 11:00 – 13:00 : Workshop 1 on digital skills
  • 13:00 – 14:00: Lunch break
  • 14:00 – 15:00: Project proposals, ideation & team selection
  • 16:00 – 18:00: Project work
Day 2
  • 9:30: Registration, coffee & review of day 1
  • 10:00 – 12:00 Workshop 2 on Design Thinking
  • 12:00 – 16:00 Project work with coaches (1h of working lunch included)
  • 16:00 – 17:00 Project presentations with jury
  • 17:00 Feedback session and closing ceremony
How to participate to the We4Change Changemaking events? The participation to the events is free of charge. However, places are limited so you are required to fill-in this application form:  You can also register via the dedicated Eventbrire page here: The organizing team will send a confirmation email to confirm your participation. How else can you contribute? If you would like to be part of to the organization of events, we are happy to receive your support! Below are some ways you can contribute:
  •  Be or suggest us an inspirational speaker
  • Volunteer to hold one of the workshops during the events (digital skills, business training, a training linked to the event thematic)
  • Volunteer to do business coaching during the hackathons
  • Volunteer as jury member for the pitching competition
  • Follow-up support: coaching and mentoring after the event for the winning teams.
Fill-in this partner application form and let us know how would you like to be involved: Selected organizing partners will receive a 1h online training on the main aspects of organizing a successful  We4Change Changemakers event.

Frequently asked questions

I can’t stay the whole time, can I still participate? Of course! We realize that a weekend is a long time and people may need to attend to other commitments. What if I don’t have any digital or business skills? You are still welcome! We have dedicated digital and business skills development sessions, so you will be learning at the same time as the other participants. As long as you come willing to learn and contribute ideas. What if I don’t have any entrepreneurial idea? You are still welcome! During the event you will be inspired and learn from others what kind of entrepreneurial solutions are out there or need to be developed, and you could join one of the teams already working on an idea. What do I bring? Bring your laptop, mobile phone, scratch paper and curiosity. We will provide some food, some drinks, wi-fi, power and challenges. How much it costs to attend the events? The participation to the events is free of charge. Can I attend more than one event? Yes, you are more than welcome to attend several events and bring new ideas to the teams. How do I register? Fill-in this application form: The organizing team will send a confirmation email to confirm your participation. We4Change: Girls and Women connecting for environmental change is funded  by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and seeks to contribute to the EU Youth Strategy with a specific female-focused approach, that responds directly to the specific gender-based needs of girls and young women across Europe, offering thus an appropriate and innovative way to empower and engage them in their communities and society-at-large. You can find out more about the project here:

The second edition of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Women of Diverse Cultural Backgrounds

Athena Entrepreneurship Bootcamp 2.0 follows after a successful first edition being organized in June 2022, aiming to support women migrants or with migrant backgrounds to plan their entrepreneurial activities in Belgium. The focus is on creating a community of women (aspiring) entrepreneurs with diverse cultural backgrounds that face similar challenges in starting or growing their businesses, by connecting them with a network of professionals and organizations that can support to fully valorize their entrepreneurial potential. The second edition of the bootcamp was organized on the 7th of October 2022, as a more compact one-day training with one session covering the main administrative aspects of doing business in Belgium, and a second one dedicated to working on the business ideas of the participants. The aim was to offer a comprehensive understanding of the business ecosystem in Belgium, while allowing the participants to discuss about the opportunities and challenges they encounter on their entrepreneurial journeys, and brainstorm on adequate solutions together with our performance coach, Ms Cécile Bonneton:
  • Hands-on business coaching: clarify your business goals and work on a concrete plan to advance your activity with the support of our coach, and the different resources and tools offered by the program.
The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Women of Diverse Cultural Backgrounds was organized as part of the Athena project – Approaches To valorise the High ENtrepreneuriAl potential of migrant women to contribute to their social and economic integration – a two-year project funded by the AMIF Program. The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the economic and social integration of migrant women in the EU society by improving the services of entrepreneurship support oriented to migrant women and creating a specific entrepreneurial path for them. The project is implemented by a consortium of six partners and covers five European countries , and will directly benefit a 210 migrant women, it will increase the capacities of more than 35 professionals working in entrepreneurship support roles, it will create synergies with several organisations and it will finally intend to influence policies through a series of policy recommendations.  Here you can find more about the project:

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Women of Diverse Cultural Backgrounds

While entrepreneurship represents a viable alternative of decent and sustainable employment for women migrants of diverse cultural backgrounds – a powerful way towards empowerment, self-realization, income creation and improvement of their social status – the potential contribution that entrepreneurship can bring to their lives and the economy of the host country is often hindered by a series of challenges ranging from traditional barriers to business creation – difficulties in accessing credit, overwhelming bureaucracy, and lack of familiarity with the (business) environment – to some more complex ones embedded in our social structures: cultural differences and stereotypes, gender biases and social norms social that pose unique barriers to business growth and profitability for female-run enterprises. To support these entrepreneurs – and aspiring entrepreneurs – to navigate the challenges of starting or growing a business, Digital Leadership Institute organized between 17 and 19th of June 2022 the Athena Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, a free 3-day entrepreneurship program dedicated to third-national migrant of diverse backgrounds. The Bootcamp was structured in three interconnected modules that were also suitable to be followed independently according to each participant’s interest and need. The aim was to offer a comprehensive understanding of the business ecosystem in Belgium and to develop a community with a wide range of experience and expertise to support the participating entrepreneurs long-term. The boothcamp was structured around three main topics: Day 1- Administrative & Financial Skills: learning about the cultural diversity and business environment in Belgium, administrative and legal requirements when starting an entrepreneurial activity, and – very importantly – funding opportunities for female entrepreneurs launching or growing their businesses; Day 2- Business Skills: a hands-on business training session where participants discussed about vision and mission, identifying limiting beliefs, and worked on designing theirs businesses using the Lean methodology. Day 3- Digital Skills: participants learned what are the digital tools they can use to launch and manage their online businesses; how open a webshop and how to use digital marketing to optimize their online presence. The materials* used during the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp can be found below: Administrative and Financial Skills materials: Business Skills materials: Digital skills materials: *The copyright of the materials belong to heir respective authors. No part of these materials may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form without the prior consent of the copyright holders, except in the case of brief quotations embodied permitted by copyright law.

Other Resources:

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Women of Diverse Cultural Backgrounds was organized as part of the Athena project – Approaches To valorise the High ENtrepreneuriAl potential of migrant women to contribute to their social and economic integration – a two-year project funded by the AMIF Program. The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the economic and social integration of migrant women in the EU society by improving the services of entrepreneurship support oriented to migrant women and creating a specific entrepreneurial path for them. The project is implemented by a consortium of six partners and covers five European countries , and will directly benefit a 210 migrant women, it will increase the capacities of more than 35 professionals working in entrepreneurship support roles, it will create synergies with several organisations and it will finally intend to influence policies through a series of policy recommendations. Here you can find more about the project:

World’s First #WomenVsCOVID19 Hackathon

On 24-26 April, as part of the #EUvsVirus event attracting 20,000 participants from around the world, the Digital Leadership Institute and its partners hosted the first-ever global #WomenVsCovid19 hackathon tackling the unique challenges facing girls and women from COVID-19 . With 160 participants, ranging from 16 to 70 years of age and representing over 25 countries, the three-day “Move It Forward” event brought together policy-makers and private sector actors to support teen and adult women in driving solutions to the address the coronavirus pandemic.

Move It Forward for #WomenVsCOVID19 participants enjoyed interventions from European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, Ms. Julie Linn Teigland, Global Director for Women Fast Forward at EY, Ms. Anna Falth of UN Women, Ms. Pirkko Mahlamäki from European Women’s Lobby, and Ms. Bernadette Gemmell of the European Institute for Gender Equality. Miss Alai Miranda Blanco Lascurain, recipient of DLI’s 2019 European Digital Girl of the Year award, also inspired participants by sharing about her own 3D-printed invention supporting frontline healthworkers in Spain, vast majority of whom are women.

During the event, Move It Forward project teams also benefited from expert mentorship and digital skills trainings–including website development, smartphone app coding, and data visualization–in order to develop initiatives that tackle economic and social challenges impacting the world’s girls and women as a result of COVID-19.

Top #WomenVsCOVID19 projects, recognised by a world class jury including Ms. Charlene Lambert from Women’s Entrepreneurship Platform, Ms. Wendy Diamond of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization, Ms. Jaya Jiwatram, of UN Women, Ms. Anne Ravanona of Global InvestHer, and Ms. Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck from DLI, were the following:

  1. All-Around Award: WAVEA smartphone application tackling psychological abuse and delivering pan-European emergency-response for victims of violence against women and girls
  2. Innovation Award: Exit Tales – An animated documentary of COVID-19 stories from the perspective of migrant children
  3. Impact Award: Art Time with GrandmaAn inter-generational art-making project promoting women artists and connecting kids and elderly women in order to combat isolation during COVID-19

DLI and partner Global InvestHer will support winning #WomenVsCOVID19 projects with incubation, mentorship, and training, and projects are also eligible for further support from the wider #EUvsVirus event that announced prizes for the top projects among over 1500 delivered.

Event partners also committed to supporting recognized projects and to continuing to support #MoveItForward in other geographies. The first #MoveItForward for #WomenVsCOVID19 event was live-streamed on the DLI Facebook page, and links to the separate sessions may be found below.

Thank you to all of our amazing partners who made this event such a success! Please do not hesitate to reach out to us to support future editions of #MoveItForward!

Move It Forward for Women vs. COVID19

The Digital Leadership Institute, Women’s Entrepreneurship Platform and their partners are proud to announce a Move It Forward – female digital starters event for Women versus COVID19, taking place online on 24-26 April 2020 (all times CET, GMT+2), in support of the #EUvsVirus hackathon organised by the European Commission, and in celebration of Girls in ICT Day 2020!

Move It Forward female digital starters events are an initiative of inQube, DLI’s female digital accelerator, and are supported by top technology companies, non-profit organisations, and youth and women’s networks and communities. Their objective is to give teen and adult women* the skills to become digital entrepreneurs and leaders, and to support them in driving positive change in their communities and society-at-large.

Participants: If you are a teen or adult woman* interested in building your tech and entrepreneurship skills while addressing challenges for Women during the COVID19 crisis, please sign up for this FREE event!

Coaches/Volunteers/Partners: Please contact us if you would like to support this event. Opportunities exist for Move It Forward volunteers, interpreters, coaches, jury members, content and media partners, prize contributors and sponsors.

*Anyone who identifies as a woman


Draft Programme:
Day One – 24 April (Friday – All Times CET, GMT+2):
  • 11:30-12:30 – Orientation Webinar 2: Orient Yourself for the Move It Forward Workshop Webinars
  • 12:30-15:00 – Workshop Webinar 1: Build & Launch Your WordPress Website in the Cloud with Amazon Web Services
  • 15:00-17:00 – Brainstorming, Project Ideation & Team Grouping
  • 17:00-18:00 – #EUvsVirus Opening Session

Day Two – 25 April (Saturday – All Times CET, GMT+2):

Day Three – 26 April (Sunday – All Times CET, GMT+2):

  • 09:00-09:30 – Check-in & Virtual Coffee
  • 09:30-12:00 – Workshop Webinar 3: Build a Smartphone App with MIT App Inventor for Android
  • 12:00-15:00 – Project Work with Coaches
  • 15:00-16:00 – Project Submissions to #EUvsVirus (optional)
  • 16:00-19:00 – Closing Session (open to the Public): Project Pitches for “Women versus COVID19”

  • 19:00-20:00 – Virtual Reception with #EUvsVirus
**Awards: Prizes will be handed out for the top three projects presented at the Closing Session:
  • Overall Best: 6-month Virtual inQubation at DLI; 10 Hours one-to-one inQube Startup Coaching; and free access to Crowdfunding 101 online course ($197 value) care of event partner Global InvestHer
  • Most Impact: 4-month Virtual inQubation at DLI; 8 Hours one-to-one inQube Startup Coaching
  • Most Innovative: 4-month Virtual inQubation at DLI; 8 Hours one-to-one inQube Startup Coaching
Jury members:

Europe Recognises Top Girls and Women in Digital Fields

“We are girls! We are women! We are strong!” – European Commissioner Gabriel to winners of the 2019 European Ada Awards recognising top female digital talent in Europe

“Take all challenges as opportunities,” advised Ms. Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, to a group of wide-eyed finalists at the sixth European Ada Awards ceremony organised on 16 October 2019 in Brussels as part of European Code Week and the WomenInTech.Brussels Women Code Festival. The Ada Awards, founded in 2012 by Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute, promote top girls and women in digital fields in Europe in an effort to increase their numbers, a long-term priority for Commissioner Gabriel that she will carry into her new mission as European Commissioner for Youth and Innovation starting next month.

Commissioner Gabriel officially opened this year’s celebration of the Ada Awards, affectionately named for Countess Ada Lovelace, the world’s first-ever computer programmer, with a message that technology is “a strategic tool for the empowerment of citizens—of women and of men—that we must continue to use to advance ourselves,” she said. The Commissioner counseled those present to spend less time on embellishments and to focus on taking action when a door is opened, saying she would both hold them to task, and committed to supporting them along the way. The Commissioner closed her message praising the hard work and talent demonstrated by the Ada Award finalists and winners, underscoring: “We are girls! We are women! We are strong!”

Following her remarks, Commissioner Gabriel and Ada Award partners from civil society and private sector recognised the 2019 European Ada Award-winners.

2019 European Digital Woman of the Year Award

The 2019 European Ada Award for Digital Woman of the Year was presented by Ms. Kelly Dorekens, CRM Director at Deloitte Belgium, who shared that “diversity in a group matters as much as ability and brainpower,” adding that Deloitte “actively encourages women to embrace science, technology, engineering and math through selected partnerships and events, like the Ada Awards.”

Ms. Dee Saigal, United Kingdom – 2019 European Digital Woman of the Year
Ms. Dee Saigal is Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Erase All Kittens, an adventure game designed to give girls the confidence to code, whilst teaching digital and 21st century skills. Dee’s goal is for EAK is to transform the way children perceive coding and engineering, and empower millions of girls worldwide with transferable, digital skills. Dee shared that her biggest challenge so far, aside from being a woman in tech, has been fundraising for research and development. Her message to other women and girls is to not think tech is for boys or that it is “geeky.” “There are so many amazing careers in tech that are both interesting and challenging,” says Saigal. Now that Erase All Kittens has 150,000 players, her next step is to raise investment in order to be able to build more educational and gamified version to launch globally. Her team is raising £500,000, and are already at twenty percent of that goal.

2019 European Digital Girl of the Year Award

“10 Years and Under” Category:
The 2019 European Ada Award for Digital Girl of the Year in the “10 Years and Under” category was presented by Ms. Afke Schaart, VP and Head of Europe, GSMA. Winner in this category was Tayra, from Bulgaria.

Tayra, from Bulgaria – 2019 European Digital Girl of the Year “10 Years and Under”
Tayra is ten years old and was born in Sofia. She loves coding, and most recently won a special prize at Softunjada Kids with her Scratch project “three bears fairytale,” using sign language for kids. Tayra says the projects she is most proud of are her webpage and her robots. In ten years, she hopes to be a programmer. Her message to other girls who are interested in tech is: “I believe that girls have a power, and the power of technology can change the world for the better, no matter who we are. It is never too late or too early to get involved in tech,” Tayra says.

“11-14 Years Old” Category:

The 2019 European Ada Award for Digital Girl of the Year in the “11-14 Years Old” category was presented by Ms. Christine Marlet, Board Member, Global Wo.Man Hub. Marlet expressed her awe of the candidates saying “the Ada Awards grant the participants the perfect opportunity to enhance their digital dreams. It encourages them to take risks along the way in order to achieve their digital goals because they believe that their objectives are attainable.” She added: “Belief in yourself stems from belief in your role models.” Winner in this category was Selin, from Turkey.

Selin, from Turkey – 2019 European Digital Girl of the Year “11-14 Years Old”
Selin is thirteen years old and loves building robots, coding, animals and travelling. She wants to study robotics and eventually build a humanoid. Selin shared that she was inspired to build her robot dog when her childhood dog passed away. She said “I knew that blind people especially have a strong connection with their dogs. I wanted to help them out, and felt like this was a great way of doing that.” She spends her free time on the weekends working on and improving her robotic guide dog. Looking forward, Selin says “I am currently developing the second version of my dog, and this one will be able to sit, lay down, bark, and it will even do ‘heart eyes’ towards my mom. Currently it’s only programmed to understand English, but I’m hoping for it to learn Chinese soon!”

“15-17 Years Old” Category:
The 2019 European Ada Award for Digital Girl of the Year in the “15-17 Years Old” category was presented by Ms. Viola Pinzi from European Schoolnet. There were two winner in this category: Anne, from Belgium, and Alai-Miranda, from Spain.

Anne, from Belgium – 2019 European Digital Girl of the Year “15-17 Years Old”
Anne is a fifteen-year-old girl who created Clinicoders, an initiative to bring technology and programming to children in hospitals. One of the goals of this project is to encourage children to create solutions for permanently disabled children. Anne said her next steps for Clinicoders are to bring it to a hospital in Antwerp, as it is only currently in Ghent, Belgium. “My dad wants to help bring it to other countries as well. So we’ll see where it goes,” she said. Over time, Clinicoders has developed from an application for children into something for adults too. “We shared this application called ‘Mindstorms’ to adult hospital animators, and it has been a real success.” In terms of her own future, Anne plans on studying law, but definitely wants to continue engaging hospital patients with Clinicoders.

Alai-Miranda from Spain – 2019 European Digital Girl of the Year “15-17 Years Old”
Alai-Miranda’s passion for STEM began when she was seven years old, and it has yet to fade. Most recently, she was invited to speak at the Amazon Web Services Summit in Madrid to discuss her experience as a girl in technology. Alai-Miranda shared about a new project she has begun to work on called “EsVuela.” A combination of the Spanish words “escuela” (school) and “volar” (to fly), the project will educate children on how to fly and program drones. As far as where Alai-Mirand sees herself in ten years, she says: “Hopefully I will have graduated from MIT and will be working in technology at a company, or maybe I will have even started my own company at that point. I hope to be either in the U.S., or maybe in Europe, maybe even still in Spain – somewhere!” As for her experience at the Ada Awards, she said that she feels “inspired to continue talking about and learning technology.”


“Gender-Equality and Europe: Fit for the Digital Era?” Panel

The 2019 European Ada Awards ceremony was preceded by a high-level panel on “Gender Equality and Europe: Fit for the Digital Era,” moderated by Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, and including panelists Miss Manon Van Hoorebeke, 2014-2015 Ada Award-winner for European Digital Girl of the Year, Mr. Christian Veske, Stakeholder Relations Coordinator at the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), Ms. Annick Breton Elias, Partner of Deloitte Luxembourg, and Ms. Afke Schaart, Vice President and Head of Europe at GSMA, a global trade association for the mobile industry.

Christian Veske kicked off the panel with a discussion of EIGE’s 2019 Gender Equality Index released this week, the factors contributing to Europe’s score of 67 out of 100, and the increasing importance of promoting gender balance in digital fields. “Women won’t achieve equality until there is digital equality,” agreed Schaart from the GSMA. “Right now, women hold less than twenty percent of jobs in the tech industry, which is why GSMA expanded our Tech4Girls program this year.”


At sixteen, Manon Van Hoorebeke shared that winning the Digital Girl of the Year award at eleven years old has played a significant role in guiding her life choices since then, and that she is now studying Physics at university. Van Hoorebeke also admitted that a lack of confidence with technology is a barrier to getting more young women into the field, and even despite her accomplishements, that she sometimes faces self-doubt. Elias concurred that this patter appears in professional contexts as well for which reason, she said, Deloitte works to identfy high-potential women in digital fields and starts conversations with them on leadership. “Because it is often unlikely that women will initiate these discussions themselves,” she said.


Formal welcome for the 2019 European Ada Awards Ceremony was provided by Ms. Loubna Azhgoud, COO of Women in Business and WomenInTech.Brussels @1819 Hub, and by Ms. Audrey Scozzaro Ferrazzi, Senior European Policy Manager at Google. Azhgoud congratulated Ada Award finalists and highlighted the event in the context of the third-annual Women Code Festival organised by the Brussels Region, which succeeded this year in reaching 2300 participants, eighty percent female, to encourage them into digital fields. Scozzaro Ferrazzi also welcomed guests with a rousing speech expressing her awe and admiration for gathered laurates who, like her, are pursuing digital fields.

Following the ceremony, WomenInTech.Brussels provided a lovely reception for the finalists and winners of the 2019 European Ada Awards and all their friends, families and supporters.

Congratulations to the 2019 European Ada Award winners, finalists and nominees for their amazing leadership in digital fields across Europe!

Thank you to our Ada Awards sponsors and supporters!

You can find more pictures from the 2019 European Ada Awards ceremony here.

Move It Forward Cairo for Female Digital Starters

On 8-9 October 2019 in Cairo, the Digital Leadership Institute organized a Move It Forward – female digital starters event in partnership with Outreach EgyptAWS and Women Entrepreneurship Platform.  The event, which included three trainings in digital skills plus coaching for ten women-led startups, reached forty teen and adult women with skills, community and mentorship to support them in their startup journey.

*Anyone who identifies as a woman