How does the Technovation Challenge motivate the girls of Uzbekistan to solve existing problems?
31 May 2017
How can mobile applications help schoolchildren and students study better, solve the problem of employing older people, improve processing of household waste? Girls from Uzbekistan tried to solve these and other issues within 3 months under the Technovation Challenge programme.
Technovation Challenge is an international programme for girls aged 10 to 18 years, which was first launched in San Francisco, USA in 2010. The mission of Technovation is to inspire and educate girls to solve the real problems of society through technology, in particular via mobile applications.
In February 2017, the Technovation Programme was first launched in Uzbekistan. For 12 weeks, 95 girls (15-18 years) divided into 22 teams worked on projects focused on health, education, environment, poverty, inequality and security issues. The participants, led by 43 women mentors, have undergone trainings based on specially developed curriculum, and acquired new knowledge in business, programming and self-development. Developing mobile applications, carrying out market research, writing a business plan, design thinking, leadership, presentation and pitches are just a small part of the skills acquired by participants during the programme.
The UNDP project "E-Government Promoting for Improved Public Service Delivery" jointly with the Association of Support of Children and Families in Uzbekistan, the Ministry of Development of Information Technologies and Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the University of INHA hosted the program in Uzbekistan.
Winning teams received valuable prizes from sponsors and organizers, and most importantly - the opportunity to finalize and implement their projects:
- In the nomination from the Embassy of Israel "The Best Innovative Project" was won by the ECOLIFE team with the EClean project.
- In the nomination from the US Embassy "The Best Social Project" was won by the UNIQUE UNION team with the JoinME application.
- In a special UNDP nomination for "open data", the team that used open data most fully became the Bright Minds team with the HealthTech application.
- In the nomination from Kamolot Youth Movement "Best Youth Project" was won by the BLAH BLAH TEAM with the Globedoo application.
- The BRAVEHEARTS team with the WisePower application received the prize for the most realistic business project from Asaka Bank.
- In the nomination from the company Datasite "The best application for women and children" was won by the TECHNO SQUAD team with the application Yordam.
- A special nomination from the Center for Youth Initiatives was given to the LIMITBUSTERS team with an application for students Linkey.
- The WORLD SAVERS team with the Drop Stop application received a special nomination from the UN Office in Uzbekistan.
Why is it important to support programs like Technovation?
Experts predict that in the coming years, there will be a shortage of qualified personnel in the technological spheres all over the world. For example, according to the forecast of the European Commission, by 2020 in Europe the deficit of ICT specialists will be more than 800 000 people. Moreover, today in many countries the ICT industry is men predominate, and especially at the top management level,. The proportion of female technical students is also lower than that of men.
Today, in Uzbekistan , the share of girls in technical universities is 16-22% of the total number of students. Research show that narrowing the gap between male and female employment has been a significant factor in economic growth in many countries. In the Asia-Pacific region, for example, the limitation of employment opportunities for women costs US $ 42 - 46 billion per year.
The Technovation programme helps to empower young people and, especially girls. According to surveys conducted in previous years, 58% of Technovation participants said that they want to have a career in the field of ICT. During the interview, participants from Uzbekistan noted that after participating in the programme they changed their decision on future careers in favor of the ICT sphere. The programme promotes establishment of clubs and communities of participants and mentors. In addition, in the following years it is planned to expand the geography of the contest, covering not only the city of Tashkent, but also regions. The Technovation initiative can contribute to the implementation of one of the key areas of the Strategy of Action 2017-2021 aimed at increasing the socio-political activity of women.
In order to maximize the positive effects, initiatives such as Technovation should be linked to educational reforms, including the introduction of technology subjects in the curriculum of primary, secondary and higher education, improving the quality of education, and increasing the involvement of the private sector in the education system.
The next stage of the competition is the presentation of all projects among participants around the world, after which ten finalist teams will be selected to participate in the final stage of the contest, which will be held in San Francisco, California.
 Source: Calculations based on information from the portal data.gov.uz