Gwaliwa Peter Mashaka’s placement at the Human Development Center of Louisiana State University’s Health Sciences Center offers meaningful opportunities to develop her project on capacity building within post-secondary educational settings. 

Gwaliwa is an engineering professional by training who lives in Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. A strong young female leader, she uses technology and data to improve the lives of young women and people with disabilities. She is a founder of Tanzania Digital Girls where she develops technology programs, organizes workshops and science fairs for young women and youth with disabilities to inspire them to pursue careers in STEM and use science as a tool to make a difference in their lives and their communities.

Gwaliwa holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and Information Technology, and, a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems. She has consulted for multiple national and international organizations, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), where she served as a data analyst on a women’s empowerment program. She has also worked as an Emergency Technology Consultant at Fondation Botnar (Botnar Foundation), a Swiss charitable organization that supports children’s basic needs. In her role at Botnar, she advised officials on strategic investment in child health and development in Tanzania. She also worked for the Embassy of Switzerland in Tanzania as a Technology Consultant on the development of business cases for investment in line with the Swiss government’s efforts to alleviate poverty in Tanzania.

Gwaliwa has also worked as a Research Coordinator at Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) Tanzania. In that position, she organized research, conducted workshops and evaluated signature VSO programs in Tanzania that focused on health, education and economic empowerment (with specific attention to social accountability, gender, and disability inclusion). She is also a 2016 alumna of the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship Program, which brings elite emerging leaders from Africa to study in the U.S. She spent that program studying business and entrepreneurship at the University of Nevada-Reno.

Gwaliwa intends to use the technology, connections, experiences, and knowledge she gains through the PFP-IDE Fellowship to implement an inclusive employment project that supports capacity-building among universities, employers and employees and fosters transparency surrounding issues relating to employment of people with disabilities. She will do this through collaboration with government officials in Tanzania and advocacy for upholding the national mandate that states that three percent of all employees in Tanzania must be people with disabilities. Gwaliwa’s passion is driven by personal experience; she had accident when she was in second year that affected her studies and life. She wants to use her experience to make a difference in Africa with regard to economic inclusion.