Challenge Accepted: Closing Of The Gender Gap


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Image by Joseph Driste

Image by Joseph Driste

Image by Joseph Driste

Image by Joseph Driste

Image by Joseph Driste

Image by Joseph Driste

Image by Joseph Driste

All images by Joseph Driste

What do you get when you bring individuals together from around the world who seek to create a better world for women and girls while being passionate about social change and technology? A determined group of people who come together and create solutions to specific problems plaguing certain countries through the use of tech and media.

On September 9th, Women and Girls Lead Global and our partners ITVS, Ford Foundation, USAID and CARE hosted a Global Gender Gap Challenge at the gorgeous GitHub headquarters. The goal of the event was to create new design and ideas that will transform the lives of women and girls. Five teams collaborated in search of a solution to specific issues such as gender-based violence, reproductive education for children, and fostering women’s leadership. With backgrounds in the  fields of media, technology, social impact, and entrepreneurship, each participant had something unique to contribute.

After several hours of intense brainstorming and guidance from facilitator and social scientist, Michaela Leslie-Rule, these teams were set to present their solutions. Team India tackled the task of engaging more men and boys in bringing awareness to gender-based violence. They presented a “Hero Academy Model” that would create safe spaces for men to discuss issues around GBV and brand them as “heroes” for taking a stand against the issue. This included the use of phone-based listening and SMS reminders of what men can do to to fight against GBV.

How does one encourage and empower  women to address gender-based violence? Team Jordan created a fully functional app with a live demonstration called “Happy Families”. This app would raise awareness of GBV and could be used in private when seeking personalized advice through an embedded operator service. These operators can follow up with the user if more help is needed or check-in when trigger words are used, all without interference from the abusive men in their lives.

Team Kenya sought to bring more women into leadership roles and developed a card game that would fulfill the promise of including more women in politics. This game simulates what it would be like to run for public office in hopes of increasing knowledge of what it means to be a leader with hopes of inspiring them to become a leader themselves.

Team Bangladesh was interested in discovering  an effective way to collect  WGLG data and share how their work on-the-ground is reducing child marriage and keeping girls in school. With more complete and accurate data, the Ministry of Education would consider nationalizing this project to thousands of schools. The end result of their brainstorming session was a  training session for individuals to facilitate a data aggregator app that allows for public interaction with schools to bring awareness and share stories around the world.

Lastly, Team Peru looked to encourage Peruvian parents to become more involved in youth sexual and reproductive health. How would this be done? They developed an interactive radio-novella for parents and teens that would follow a film screening about a fictional family dealing with issues around sexual and reproductive health. Listeners would be able to interact with the radio-novella by calling in and deciding the path that the family would take. The following week, listeners can tune in and hear the results.

To celebrate the successful day, ITVS and WGLG hosted an event to showcase the teams’ accomplishments. San Francisco’s District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim and venture capitalist Ernestine Fu took the stage to give empowering speeches on being women leaders in their fields and how they overcame many obstacles to get where they are today. The event wrapped up with the panel discussion about the film Revolutionary Optimists with WGL Bangladesh country engagement coordinator Mahmud Hasan, filmmaker Nicole Newnham and facilitator Dawn Chmielewski of Re/code discussing how the film has affected viewers in Bangladesh and the positive reaction it has received.

WGLG wants to thank all of the participants of the challenge and our partners for collaborating with us for this special event. You can see more images of the event here on our Facebook page.

Issues: Girls’ education, child marriage, youth activism, women’s leadership, gender-based violence