The Women in Innovation, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (WISTEM) platform was an idea brought to South Africa’s attention by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in response to the outcomes of the African Union (AU) First Extra Ordinary Summit of the Committee of Ten (C10) Heads of State and Government Championing Education Science and Technology. The platform will be a “One Stop Shop” database in Africa that provides online support for knowledge sharing, networking, career and business opportunities for WISTEM in Africa.
South Africa has identified the development of the WISTEM platform as one of the legacy initiatives for the AU Chairship. The WISTEM platform aims to empower women in ISTEM in an effort to reverse the current trend of women exclusion and address years of gender inequality. Its strategic objective is to establish an online facility that creates an enabling environment to foster mutual learning, collaboration, networking and exchange of best practices amongst women in the technology sector in emerging, developing as well as developed economies. The WISTEM platform comprises of various elements that will be implemented in phases, the first of which will showcase innovative technologies and services developed by women entrepreneurs in the technology space across the continent.
To develop the WISTEM platform, as a South Africa’s AU legacy initiative, the DSI has partnered with the African Union Commission, African Scientific Research and Innovation Council and the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to develop a WISTEM portal as a page within the Innovation Bridge Portal (IBP). The IBP strives to create linkages and networks between national, regional and international innovators, industry and funding partners through an online platform. The portal showcases about 230 various innovative technologies. The WISTEM portal provides a database of Women in STEM with the first phase focused on showcasing the innovations of women technology entrepreneurs.