From where I stand: “Girls have to contribute towards innovation and technology”

Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
At 16, Jakomba Jabbie is one of the most vocal advocates for the education of all girls in the Gambia, especially when it comes to science and technology skills.

"Education is important, especially to a girl. It allows you to develop confidence in yourself, showcase your talents, and—speak for your rights. If we’re not educated, we will not know our rights and responsibilities.

It's the teachers that start everything. They ask, what you do you want to do in the future? If you say a doctor, they can't say, 'but you're a girl.' They need to say, ‘you can do it’.
 
And girls really need to be asked what they want to do, because a lot of girls are scared of what their families will say. A lot of them, they don't want to venture into courses like science and mathematics because they are scared that their family may not approve. Girls need to be told they can be anything they want to be.
 
Like with me, I want to do robotics and I want to be an aerospace engineer.
 
I created a robotics team at school to show the girls that we can also participate in the area of technology, to talk to them and to make it a space for all of us.
 
I know a lot of girls are interested in science and technology. Our robotics club is not only for girls, but it’s encouraging more girls to join all kinds of science fields.
 
Some girls think it’s too difficult, and they lose interest. But many girls have the talent, but their families and communities are not allowing them to show the world what they can do.
 
We need to sensitize them; let these communities know that girls have to contribute towards innovation and technology. We all need to come together and develop the world.”
 
Jakomba Jabbie, 16, started a robotics club in her school to encourage more girls to give science and technology a try. An advocate of girls’ education, Jabbie knows the critical importance of giving girls spaces to excel in the fields where they’ve been underrepresented. In March 2019, Jabbie spoke at the UN Women event, “Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030” on the margins of the 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.