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After having launched TechWomen last year, Hillary Clinton announced the launch of TechGirls, an educational initiative for girls from Arab countries interested in technology.
The U.S. Secretary of State made the announcement Wednesday at the closing luncheon honoring the first class of participants from TechWomen.
The TechWomen program, Clinton told participants, is spawning a new program: "We're calling it TechGirls, and it will bring teenage girls from the Middle East and North Africa for an intensive month of educational activities here in the United States."
"Technology can be a great facilitator," Clinton said. "It can also be used by governments and others to prevent people from being able to communicate. So we have to stay a step ahead so that people are never deprived of their opportunity, as we saw how important that was in both Tunisia and Egypt over the last months. We're seeing it in many other settings as well."
TechWomen program is a public-private partnership that brought emerging female leaders in technical fields from predominately Muslim countries to the United States for one month. The women were paired with 24 leading U.S. technology companies in Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco area for a project-based professional mentorship.
The participants, who range in age from 25 to 42, were from Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Territories. They will spend five weeks, all expenses paid, at 24 U.S.-based technology companies, among them: Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, AT&T and Adobe Systems.
Select U.S. mentors will complete the professional exchange program and travel to Lebanon and Morocco this year to conduct workshops for women in the technology sector as well as for young girls who have expressed an interest in tech-based careers.
"Being a woman in the field of technology is not always easy. Being a woman in any field is not always easy, but there are so many opportunities in technology that we just have to forge ahead," Clinton told the group of 37 Muslim women and their U.S. mentors.
Clinton encouraged the first class of TechWomen to help other women in their home countries, underlining that the work between TechWomen and the United States is just beginning.