My name is Ivana Alvares-Marshall from Malawi. I am the African Section Governor of a non-profit organization of International Women Pilots called the Ninety-Nines. It is the only and first organization for women pilots established in 1929 by 99 women pilots founded by Amelia Earhart. The organization currently holds over 5000 members divided into chapters and sections depending on their geographical locations from 44 countries.
The need for STEM is imperative now more than ever, more so to excite interest in female students which is our main objective whilst male students will also benefit from the same. Child marriages and early child bearing are a prominent cultural practice. More than 40% of girls get married before they reach 18 years old. Prevalence of HIV/AIDS prevents girls form education. Estimated 12% of the current sexually active population live with HIV/AIDS virus in Malawi.Girls in rural Malawi do not attend school if they have their usual monthly menstruation cycle. This is gradually changing as NGO's and various charitable organisations teach the girls and youth to make reusable sanitary pads. When girls are unable to attend school they lag behind in their school curriculum, leaving them with few options and they drop out of the education system. We as the African Section 99s as part of our STEM initiative wish to change this not only in Malawi but throughout the African continent, where our members are already established. We have chosen a role model in each country who will promote STEM that way we are keeping in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of no country gets left behind, promoting gender balance, women empowerment and education. We are promoting aviation alongside the ICAO initiative of Next Generation of Aviation Professionals with the tools we hope to have like mobile simulators to provide a realistic picture of what flying is all about.