By Camille Dupire Jordan Times, Amman
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Jordanian entrepreneur Hadeel Anabtawi is being recognized for her work promoting children's education. "The Alchemist Lab" and the female science program, "Go Girls!" are among her initiatives.
Jordanian entrepreneur Hadeel Anabtawi has recently been selected as one of five women entrepreneurs around the globe recognized for advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and inspiring communities to create change by 2030.
The first-of-its-kind global business competition for women entrepreneurs, the WE Empower Challenge honors one female entrepreneur from each of the five UN regions, inviting them to convene to New York City during the week of the UN General Assembly on September 24-29 to attend high-level events and run for the opportunity to receive a $20,000 grant, according to the WE Empower website.
"I feel really honored and proud to be recognized by a global competition like WE Empower and I am excited to have the opportunity to meet key leaders, experts and decision-makers in NYC, where I can work on scaling my work at The Alchemist Lab to have higher impact and reach more children as this is our main current focus," Anabtawi told The Jordan Times on Sunday.
The Alchemist Lab The only Arab awardee, Anabtawi will represent the Asia-Pacific region by introducing her decade-long work promoting children's education through various initiatives such as the educational center "The Alchemist Lab" and the female scientific programme, "Go Girls!".
"When I started working with the youth, I found that many reached university confused and unfocused despite having received a good education," Anabtawi said, adding: "I felt that they lacked the basic information and skills they need to make the right decisions and start their own journey."
She established The Alchemist Lab in 2013, with the aim of addressing gaps in the traditional education system by inspiring a successful generation to be able to change, girls and empower to turn into confident women and providing fair access to education for vulnerable children in villages and refugee camps.
"Our activities connect what children learn at school to the real world and are tailored to children's developmental needs, providing fun and hands-on experiences," she explained, noting that The Alchemist Lab educational centres have offered more than 25,000 children in cities, remote villages and refugee camps the skills needed "to explore themselves and the world around them with confidence and determination".
Focusing primarily on children and youth, Anabtawi said her initiatives strive to empower them to pursue a successful and competent life, mainly by acquainting them with problem solving and critical thinking through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) activities and experiences.
"Every action and every goal in life, minor or major, starts with a question that we ask ourselves and/or the world around us. The more accurate and specific the question, the more the chances of the process to lead to a right answer," the entrepreneur underscored, adding "because girls aged above 12 will soon come to a point where they will need to make decisions about their future, we believe that scientific thinking is a life skill that is needed to make decisions in our daily life".
Focusing on young girls, especially those living in underprivileged areas, The Alchemist Lab uses activities to "highlight how some questions lead to obstacles and different paths". "Questioning leads to putting assumptions then research of options and solutions then testing these solutions, optimizing the model and learning from mistakes to reach the most successful model," Anabtawi explained, stressing: "We believe the more girls are trained on this process, the more they can reach their goals in life."
She said her programs make sure to take into consideration the individuality of participants by linking practical examples with their daily lives. "They go beyond motivation, to coaching and training on the process of getting what they want in life," she underlined.
Need for women role models Voicing her admiration for Her Majesty Queen Rania, whom she said "is an inspiring role model to many women and is encouraging many initiatives led by women as well as many NGOs and organisations who are working hard to build women capacity to join workforce or to become more entrepreneurs", Anabtawi called for more female role models to inspire young women.
"Through my work, I noticed that girls lack access to role models of working women. Due to limited options, they are surrounded by women working in certain sectors like education and they don't see women working in a variety of sectors where they are successful and shining," the entrepreneur highlighted, lamenting: "They also don't see many women who were able to pursue a successful personal life being wives and mothers and successful career lives outside certain sectors."
"Girls still think that women have to sacrifice careers or personal life. I agree and understand that it is still difficult, but I also think that girls have to see more role models who were able to balance," she continued.
One of her initiatives, "Go Girls!" encourages girls to think with a STEM and scientific approach, while
"Everything is Possible", a 10-minute children's radio segment, seeks to address life challenges and empower children.
"I think with time, entrepreneurs start to welcome challenges and learn how to deal with them. Jordan is a small market with high competition so, uunfortunately, any business which starts with a focus only on the Jordanian market will eventually struggle. Services and products have to be built from the beginning to be able to expand in the region and globally. Getting the support to achieve this is the entrepreneurs' important struggle."
During the conference, Anabtawi and the four other awardees will partake in a number of high-level events, such as the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, a dialogue with the Council of Women World Leaders, the We the People Summit, the G-5 Collective Dinner and the Global Citizen Summit, according to the WE Empower website.
"I have been working in Jordan for more than 10 years on different projects and initiatives related to children's education and skills and it is rewarding to receive a global recognition like this," Anabtawi said ahead of the conference, voicing her hope to see more organisations in Jordan highlighting entrepreneurs and helping them to get recognised globally and not leaving it to chances or individual efforts.