KTH spreading its mission to girls worldwide
Cairo to host Tekla on International Women's Day
In the last 12 months, KTH and Robyn’s Tekla Festival has been presented for girls in multiple time zones – from the U.S. to Brazil and India. Yet being encouraged to get creative with technology proves equally powerful in cultures around the world.
Tekla Festival will be presented in Cairo, Egypt, on International Women’s Day, March 8, exactly one year after KTH and the Swedish Institute partnered up to take the event on an international tour.
While thousands of miles apart and culturally diverse, the 11- to 15-year-old girls – and their teachers – show a common excitement about the event, says Sanna Cedergen, the Tekla project manager for KTH.
“What ties the girls in these countries together is that there is so much enthusiasm,” she says. “It’s obvious a lot of these girls haven’t been given the opportunity to be creative in an environment like this; and we work with girls from challenging areas.
“Their confidence grows in a matter of minutes, even though they’ve never worked with technology in this way.”
Each Tekla event is structured similarly. Local girls are invited to attend a half day-long Tekla workshop with hands-on tech projects and inspirational speakers, followed by a Tekla Dialogue panel discussion for local officials, educators, and a variety of influential figures from the public and private sectors.
Connecting technology to wider interests
In Egypt this weekend, the girls will work with digital wearables, with material and technology provided by KTH startup imagiLabs. Last year in New York City, the girls worked with creating digital music, and in Brazil they built and coded basic robots.
“Tech is often seen as this narrow field, but in almost any area you can add a layer of tech – you can work with technology and music, technology and fashion, whatever the girls are interested in,” Cedergren.
Since its original launch in 2015 by recording artist Robyn, Tekla has been presented annually in the Stockholm region, and was later adopted by the Swedish Institute (SI), a public agency that works closely with the Swedish Foreign Ministry in promoting interest and trust in Sweden around the world. The events are arranged with the help of Sweden’s embassies in each country.
The road ahead
Cedergren says that after the event in Egypt, a Tekla are planned for Indonesia and South Africa during 2020. Whether SI and KTH continue arranging the events next year has yet to be decided, she says.
“It’s a good example of two public entities combining our missions and creating opportunities for girls and women around the world,” she says. “It helps raise the structural questions that need to be answered for people in these countries to create more opportunities for girls in technology.
“The girls walk out of the festival a little taller, and with a little more confidence in what they can achieve.”