Empowerment Lab is a hub for young girls aged 12-18 years old to explore the thriving world of digital technology by playing with different digital tools. Changing from users to producers, our young girls transform into impressive creators who build websites, develop mobile apps, create audio-visual animations and much more.
By being part of our hub girls can learn digital skills in a fun and relevant way that corresponds to their everyday life, and allows them to discover career fields that resonate with their personality and interests.
Explore fun & creative content.
Discover new interests.
Learn new skills.
Be inspired by up-and-coming talent.
Show the path.
Learn from one another.
From a young age Marija Musja was a budding creative with big dreams to explore the world around her. At the same time, whilst heralding from Estonia and being half Ukrainian, Marija was part of a Russian-speaking minority: and it was this personal experience of being marginalized that would eventually provide the motivation and drive to help those around her and strive to erase feelings of exclusion.
Marija originally followed a quite traditional path, then left home as a young woman for London to study politics and law. While practicing as a legal intern in a law firm she came to realize she that this particular field wasn’t quite her calling in life, and slowly found herself eventually shifting to a focus on human rights advocacy with an emphasis on developing countries: areas of interest that really resonated with her passions. Based on her background, Marija engaged particularly on issues in Eastern Europe while working for several years with The Law Society, Amnesty International and the Big Hearts Foundation. It was during this time that she became deeply involved in tackling gender inequality, human trafficking, animal rights concerns and improving online learning and access to educational opportunities.
Witnessing the crisis unfolding in Ukraine in 2014, Marija felt an urge to take action and engage in alleviating hardship there. She began to work on making her ambitions a reality, building from the ground up by supporting individuals whose backgrounds and opportunities provided little scope for self-empowerment. This work provided much-needed prospects to young people and gave them encouragement to follow their career dreams, no matter their personal circumstances.
Marija then took the step of moving to the Alpine town of Chamonix, France, and at the same time began developing her concept for a new venture, her non-profit association ‘Empowerment Lab’. Geneva, a nearby city of global renown for humanitarianism and the promotion of human rights, became the base for this NGO and began raising of funds to help deliver creative educational workshops in the remote areas of Ukraine where girls still lacked opportunities to play and learn. Having had her own creativity suppressed during her childhood, Marija understood the importance of developing self-expression and the value of encouraging young girls to explore their own creativity.
“I know the pain and frustration of not being understood, not knowing where to start”
This transition in Marija’s life was in fact founded on her own moment of epiphany, understanding that she’d arrived at a point where she needed to transform herself and seize an opportunity to pursue her ambitions. In a relatively short time, Marija had freed herself from following a mundane and conventional path to one pursuing her aspirations and finding her own purpose. Through this journey, and with the support she finally had around her, she knew that both of these elements were vital and could inspire girls and young women to go after their dreams.
“Since I started, a lot of amazing people have supported me. I know the feeling of not being supported in my past experience and what it feels like to finally have it. I want to share this value with other girls and young women”
Many systems of education pressure young people to choose a path early on and, by narrowing down possibilities so soon, many of us deprive ourselves of a chance to explore the vast array of opportunities that abound.
Empowerment Lab was built on the premise that girls can benefit from exploring the world of creative possibilities in the digital sphere. The particular focus on girls and young women also aims to nurture their inclusion in the processes of technology development in our society, and aid in their gaining further knowledge and expertise. Participants aren’t expected to achieve every objective of their futures in this one programme. Rather, the programme is a crucial launch pad to equip girls and young women with the skills to discover, explore and be successful in their own life journeys.
Founder, managing director
co-founder, programme director
PARTNERSHIPS & PROJECT MANAGER
MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER