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Meet the Women and Technology Solver Teams

In May, we asked the world a question: “How can women and girls everywhere use technology to improve their economic prospects?”

Why this question? Data tells us undeniably that women still aren’t doing as well as men economically. They have less access to technology and to all means of production. As our economies become more digital, this gap threatens to increase. This applies everywhere in the world. In some places, the barriers are still about girls on their periods missing out on school and being safe from violence. In others, it’s about coding in a man’s world and getting to the top. As for equal pay for equal work, the gap is not expected to close for another 117 years. By then, my cremated body wouldn’t be able to do much with the cents.

Those are the trends. However, trends are not curses. Trends are just waiting for innovations to disrupt them off their course. And this is what Solve is about: finding and supporting the most promising innovations that will disrupt the nagging economic gender gap.

So, we asked the question, and about 175 teams from 53 countries responded. The Women and Technology Challenge Leadership Group had the tough job of judging and selecting the few who became Solver teams and get the support of the Solve community as they scale their solution. On Sunday September 17th, Ursula Burns, retired Chairman and CEO of Xerox, announced the Solver teams selected, and Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsico, hosted the new Solver teams and the Leadership Group over dinner.

Two Women and Technology Solver teams were also selected for the Yo-Yo Ma Arts and Culture Mentorship Prize since their solution uses technology to connect women and girls to the creative economy.

Meet the eight Women and Technology Solver Teams:

Annie Cannons provides training to human trafficking survivors training in high-paying or technical skills worldwide, and secures client work focused on projects that address issues facing women and girls today, so the survivors can earn in a flexible, trauma-recovery-friendly environment.

Digital Citizen Fund (DCF) trains young Afghan women in critical technology and job skills that give them a chance to compete in an ever-growing global economy connected by the internet, through a program that teaches basic computer skills that then build into student initiated work through the fund’s online marketplace. Students start their own blogs and earn Bitcoin for their work to help them gain voice and economic freedom. A current group of DCF students was recently the first team to represent Afghanistan at the FIRST Global Robotics Olympiad in Washington, D.C.

doctHERs reintegrates female healthcare providers (HCPs) who’ve been excluded from the workforce using a digital health platform that connects remotely-located female doctors to health consumers via trusted intermediaries. doctHERs will ultimately match the underutilized capacity of female doctors to the unmet needs of millions of underserved Pakistanis.

Erase All Kittens is the first game specifically designed to inspire girls to code and teach them practical coding languages through story-driven gameplay to help close the gender gap in technology. The game aims to transform how girls aged eight to 13 perceive code education and software engineering.

     * Selected for the Arts and Culture Mentorship Prize curated by Yo-Yo Ma

Girls Who Build Curricula is series of creative, applied engineering curricula for girls designed by engineers and published online for anyone to view. The courses are developed and tested with local high school girls in Massachusetts, and courses are adjusted based on the feedback to ensure that the material is interesting and easy to understand.

     * Selected for the Arts and Culture Mentorship Prize curated by Yo-Yo Ma

Know Your Rights is an application aimed at introducing all the rights of Saudi females in general, and specifically their rights before Personal Status Courts for family legal matters including child custody, divorce and alimony lawsuits. The application provides free legal information for women, free consultations through a “Free Legal Advise” icon, and a list of independent lawyers who provide free consultations through the “Lawyers Directory” icon.

Saathi has developed the world’s first 100 percent biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads made from waste banana tree fiber with zero chemicals. This product empowers marginalized communities and reduces women’s carbon footprint. Additionally, it provides an extra source of income to farmers who historically toss the banana fiber.

     * Selected for the Solve Community Award by receiving the most votes on the website platform

TruTrade helps small farmers—women in particular—retain and receive the true value for the crops they sell by using a smart digital platform to transform the relationship between small farmers and the middlemen who historically transport their crops to market. TruTrade is designed to provide trade finance and a platform that allows for payment and traceability.

The Women and Technology Finalists answer questions from the judges and the audience at the Solve Challenge Finals in New York City, September 17, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Stuart / MIT Solve)

Economic Prosperity

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Economic Prosperity

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Solve Challenge Finals 2017

Apella | New York City

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