Tech innovation and inspiration from around the globe, this is Technovation!
A global parade of flags waving proudly, young changemakers taking the stage, and app ideas that will change our world. This is the global Technovation final: six teams of young women from across the world, aged 10-18, pitching their app solutions to take on some of the biggest challenges that humanity faces. Words won’t be able to properly capture the events and experiences of the evening, but we will try!
It is heartbreaking to see that we have common challenges concerning young people regardless of geographical borders, such as domestic violence, mental illness and environmental sustainability. But, these young women are taking on some of these biggest challenges that we have created by our past actions and inactions, and they have developed technologies that will change our future.
What are these big challenges and ideas on the world stage tonight? A donation platform to help send kids to school in Nigeria, preserving the Cambodian cultural heritage of Khmer poetry through an education portal, connecting children with social anxiety to support and help, pairing social work interns with non-profit organisations in underserved communities in India, creating a virtual community in Bolivia for reuse and recycling of what might be trash to you but treasure to another, and detecting opioid addiction using image processing techniques in collaboration with leading US universities and medical research institutes. Mind-blowingly wow, right?? But this is just the junior finalists aged 10-14!
What are the seniors up to? The CoCo team from Kazakhstan shared with us how to live eco-friendly lifestyles through a 3D mobile game with augmented reality, D3C0ders from Albania are helping to connect women facing domestic violence to help, support and employment opportunities, When&Where is a emergency response app to keep women safe in Spain, using a powerful metaphor of drops of water and a ‘glass of blue feelings’ to help prevent youth suicide in Brazil, applying machine learning to identify noxious and invasive weeds affecting farmers in California, and connecting children at orphanages to seniors to aged care homes for improving inter-generational social and mental well-being in India.
So, who are the winners of the Technovation competition this year? We don’t at all envy the judges in having to choose a winner and runner up in each division! As the judges deliberate, we hear from Justine Sass, UNESCO Chief of the Section of Education for Inclusion and Gender Equality, who has flown all the way from Paris to share with us the critical role the gender equity plays in global innovation, change and leadership – and the need for STEM education as part of girls and women’s empowerment. Gender equality affects us all, and we all play a part in this change. Very much yes indeed, and our Tech Girls team reflects on who we should be reaching, but haven’t yet?
Judging decisions are made, and the Indian and Cambodian teams take 1st and 2nd in the junior division, with Albania and the US taking the 1st and 2nd awards for the senior division. Congratulations and cheers to all the teams! Our Tech Girls Superheroes mingle and chat to their competition peers around the world, sharing ideas and inspiration. In reality, all of the teams participating globally are winners by bringing about local change in their communities with global impact - putting into action the saying of ‘think global, act local’! We can’t wait to see what pathways these young women will take in the future, but they will no doubt they’ll be back on world stages again soon. This is just the start, and it does make us think back to what we were doing when we were in school… how what amazing role models these young women will be when they join their peers back home. Our future looks very bright indeed!