SAN FRANCISCO, July 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- When a group of five teenage girls from Kisumu, Kenya saw firsthand the impact female genital mutilation (FGM) was having in their community they decided to do something about it. The team of girls call themselves the Restorers and their app is iCut, an android app that helps fight female genital mutilation. Team Restorers says FGM is a national outcry yet widely ignored. Their mobile app is aimed at reaching girls who have undergone FGM and those at risk. It provides a platform where people can report FGM cases and where FGM victims can get help and moral support, including a panic button for those in imminent danger. The girls overcame great obstacles to create the app including limited access to computers and Internet connection. Now they are being flown to Silicon Valley to compete as finalists in the 2017 Technovation World Pitch Summit.
This groundbreaking app is one of 1,100 apps submitted to the Technovation Challenge, a global initiative from STEM education nonprofit Iridescent, that invites girls ages 10-18 to learn and apply technology to solve problems in their communities. Working in teams of 1-5, girls build mobile applications and use business planning to launch these apps. Teams were supported by over 2,000 mentors, including 85 Google Made with Code volunteers. The 12 teams of finalists will be flown to Silicon Valley August 7-11 where they pitch their ideas for seed funding and scholarships, sponsored by Google's Made with Code, a movement launched in June 2014, to inspire millions of teen girls to take their first step in code, and to see it as a means to pursue their dreams.
This year, 11,000 girls from all over the world worked in teams to address the internationally agreed upon UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). In partnership with UN Women, their projects had to address at least one issue within the overall SDG focus areas: poverty reduction, quality education, good health and well-being, climate action, peace and justice or gender equality.
"Some of these girls have overcome all sorts of obstacles — walking many miles to access computers and internet, navigating high language, infrastructural and cultural barriers to go through an English curriculum and programming interface — and when there is no support, still finding a way to persevere, learn, lead and making their world better," says Tara Chklovski, Founder, CEO, Iridescent. "Our aim, besides the competition, is really to have the girls focus on what they're learning in the program --- the entrepreneurship, the coding and teamwork. But at the end, it's even beyond those skills --- it's about honing their ability and tenacity to solve problems, perseverance and creativity."
All finalist teams will be at the World Pitch Summit hosted by Google, at Google HQ in Mountain View, CA, August 7-11, where they'll have the chance to meet each other, pitch live, and visit tech companies. The Technovation program is sponsored by major supporters such as Salesforce and Adobe and others.
Senior Division Finalists
Junior Division Finalists
"Google's Made with Code is proud to partner with Technovation Challenge to inspire young women to change the world through code and give them the opportunity to build apps that tackle real-life issues they see around them. A total of 85 Made with Code volunteers got involved as mentors and regional judges, to help teen girls build new skills – computational thinking, CS, entrepreneurship, leadership and teamwork. Google's Made with Code program is also hosting the final pitch and award events in August and will fund the winning team of high school girls to help make their idea a reality," says Maggie Johnson, VP of Education Engineering at Google.
Now in its eighth year, Technovation has worked with over 15,000 girls around the world to develop mobile apps and startups to solve problems around a diverse range of issues, including food safety, nutrition and much more. After participating in Technovation, 60% of girls from the U.S. enroll in further Computer Science courses with 30% majoring in Computer Science in college, 65 times the national rate for US female college students. Globally 70% of the girls are interested in pursuing further technology related programs.
Iridescent also expanded the number and amount of awards at World Pitch to accommodate the huge growth in the program by offering education scholarships to the top six teams and six runner-up teams in each division (junior and senior).
"The team at Technovation Challenge had a very difficult task choosing our finalists. Those that did not become finalists continue to exemplify, in so many ways, girls around the world who are learning 21st century skills that will help them in the future. We know these girls are motivated and will continue to make a difference in their communities," adds Madhavi Bhasin, senior director of Technovation.
Stand outs include the Ability app created by a team of girls from Palestine. These girls have grown up in the Gaza Strip, surrounded by conflict their entire lives. As a result of this conflict there are tens of thousands of disabled Palestinians. This team of young tech entrepreneurs created a mobile app to connect disabled Palestinians in the Gaza Strip with resources they need such as mental health care. The idea for the app came in part from the experiences of one of the developers, a young Palestinian woman who herself has a disability and wanted others to know that dreams can come true when connected to a community.
About Iridescent and Technovation
Iridescent is a science, engineering, and technology education nonprofit organization that empowers underrepresented young people to become self-motivated learners, inventors, and leaders. Founded in 2006 by CEO Tara Chklovski, Iridescent now has more than 100,000 children, parents, mentors, and educators have participated in its two global programs: Technovation, the world's largest global tech entrepreneurship program for girls, and Curiosity Machine, a unique, open-ended, project-based learning program that inspires students, families, and teachers to solve science and engineering problems together. Through Technovation, girls develop key 21st century skills and competencies and a sense of self-efficacy. In 2017, Iridescent was co-recognized along with Technovation Global Ambassador Anar Simpson for Outstanding Mobile Industry Individual Leadership at the GSMA Women4Tech awards.
M. Fortunoff Communications