Editor’s Note: This post is part of the blog series, “Her Goals: Our Future,” which highlights the connections between girls and women and the Sustainable Development Goals. Guest blogger views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the UN Foundation.
Technology is empowering women and girls around the world to take the Sustainable Development Goals into their own hands. Tech-enabled change is happening in the places where you may least expect it and in ways we may have never even thought of. But it’s happening, and it can transform the way women work toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Take for example a group we met called Girls for Change. This group of middle school and high school aged girls live in the Dharavi slums of India, one of the poorest places in the world. But they are finding creative ways to use technology to improve their lives and their community.
When we met them they needed assistance finishing their first mobile app called Women Fight Back. The app allows you to send an SMS alert with your location to five contacts, call your parents, and connect you with the police with the push of a button. The girls had designed it as a personal safety tool so that they and their friends could feel more comfortable in their neighborhoods, areas where gender based violence and sexual assault are a real danger.
By designing and building this app the girls were not just solving one problem around personal safety. They were learning and demonstrating that they have the tools to affect change in their own lives. They had found a way to take leadership in identifying and solving the problems in their world. Since then they have continued to find innovative ways to use technology to improve their own neighborhoods and communities.
Let me give you another example, this time from Afghanistan, which while still affected by conflict, has no shortage of its own innovative solutions. Here,a non-profit called Code to Inspire is training Afghan women to code, opening up a complete new avenue for employment. Many of these women now work for Overstock.com, which at one point was
the largest employer of women in Afghanistan. And to top it all off they have just started using a bitcoin based payroll service to make it easier and
safer to transfer money internationally.
That’s about as tech savvy an operation as you can imagine, being led by women in one of the most troubled countries in the world. But that is part of the dissonance we have to accept in our modern tech environment. In a country like Afghanistan, which has a higher rate of cell phone penetration than literacy, technology can often help to solve seemingly intractable problems.
We are going to keep finding women and girls who are using technology to create innovative solutions to improve their lives and their communities. In our collective pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, one of our key jobs is to identify, train, and support them – they are capable of doing
[Photos: Nawneet Ranjan]