As we celebrate June Youth Month, we can’t help but emphasise for all to appreciate that gender equality in not just good for businesses, it is good for the continent of Africa and the world as a whole. Equal and diverse teams find better, more creative and most robust solutions for the challenges we face as a continent. In this series we bring you young women scientists who are achieving greatness in society. We focus on their careers in science, their research decisions, their experience as scientists, as well as the challenges they face. Africa is one of the regions with acute under-representation of women in science globally.
Captain Kgomotso Phatsima is best known in Botswana for her pioneering work as one of the few women pilots in the country. Her career began in the military, and she diligently worked her way up to becoming a real force to be reckoned with. Captain Phatsima’s work as a pilot and her passion for youth development led her to discover that there were very few girls who were adept at, or even interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, which are key for the aerodynamics space. Not only are STEM subjects integral for becoming a pilot, or engaging in the aerospace industry, they are also essential for the development of human capital and the future of business in Botswana, Africa, and the world.
She founded and is President of the Dare to Dream Foundation in 2008 which deals with the advancement of youth, women and girls in STEM, aviation and aerospace, as well as entrepreneurship development, with the intention to get young people interested in STEM-preneurship and the aviation and aerospace business. “When I was growing up, I never had the chance to sit like this with a pilot or get into an airplane until I had the chance to fly one. After I qualified as a pilot, I sat down and thought: ‘What can I do to give the upcoming generation, especially those who grew up in a village, like me, an opportunity to do that?’. I started Dare to Dream to give back to the community and to try and open up their eyes to opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to,” Captain Phatsima says.
She says there are a lot of young people who are interested in technology. She says Botswana are in a good position to take advantage of what is happening around the world. “We just need to channel the youth in the right direction to take advantage of the technological era, and prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the businesses of tomorrow, which will be definitely different from the businesses of today,” she says. “In other African countries such as Rwanda, you’ll find that coding and robotics are part of the curriculum.”