This week we hosted three incredible teams from Mexico, India, and the U.S. to New York City for final round of our first-ever Dell Empowering Women Challenge. Up for $35,000 in seed funding, our finalists presented incredibly well-planned and scalable ventures empowering women and girls across the world to our judge panel. The projects among the finalists involved curbing female feticide in India with an algorithm software blurring fetus genitalia during live ultrasounds, a program improving access to affordable sanitary protection and feminine health education in India, and an online platform providing entrepreneurship development tools to women in developing areas of Latin America.
A major highlight of our Dell Empowering Women Challenge was an inspiring and productive think tank held the morning of the award ceremony in New York City. With the support of sponsors Credit Suisse, Verb, and Dell; we were able to bring together 15 top female thought leaders representing TOMS Shoes, World Bank, Nike Foundation, Echoing Green, Dell, Harvard’s Kennedy School, Care.com, Fox News, Acumen, Calvert Foundation, Girl Rising, and more.
Without further ado…
Grand Prize winner of $15,000 - Pasand from Princeton University! This incredible team improves access to affordable sanitary protection and feminine health education by partnering with schools to provide an interactive curriculum. The topics of study range from menstrual hygiene to rape and sexual assault.
On a mission to improve school attendance and reduce gynecological issues related to low sanitary pad access, 11-member team Pasand offers young women the opportunity to make choices for their own health and dignity. In India, girls can miss up to five days of school a month due to inadequate sanitary protection, and 23% of girls drop out of school altogether upon their first menstrual cycle. Failure to use sanitary protection leads to higher rates of infertility, reproductive tract infections, and even cervical cancer. Every sanitary pad and feminine health education course completed reduces these risks for girls and women, and gives them the chance to attend school; breaking the cycle of inequality in developing countries.
“Today is the culmination of a three year strong and meaningful relationship we have cultivated with Dell. We feel humbled and beyond excited to not only have won the grand prize today but to share the stage with two other incredible, inspiring teams. We look forward to continuing our strong ties to the Dell community and most importantly bringing health, dignity and choice to our sisters in India, period.”
–Pasand Team (Aunna Wilson, Ashley Eberhart, and Rebecca Scharfstein)
Second Place winner of $10,000 - Ultrasafe Ultrasound from The University of Pennsylvania works to curb female feticide and promote gender equality in India by developing novel algorithm software that automatically blurs the genitalia of a fetus during live ultrasound images.
7,000 female fetuses are selectively aborted each day in India, but sex-determination has been outlawed by the Indian government since 1994. By eliminating female feticide based on ultrasounds, the gender-blurring technology created by Ultrasafe Ultrasound protects doctors and ultrasound manufacturers from criminal prosecution and reduces pressure to reveal the fetal gender.
Ultrasafe Ultrasound plans to develop an official prototype within 12 months. By 2016, they are projected to penetrate a third of the ultrasound market in India with the sale of 20,000 units. At the end of 2018, they plan to sell 68,000 units which will make up 75% of the ultrasound market in India. The projected social impact between now and 2018 as a result of Ultrasafe Ultrasound technology shows an increase in the newborn female to male ratio from 917 girls per 1,000 boys to 951 girls per 1,000 boys.
Third Place winner of $5,000 - Women Moving the World from Singulair University operates a platform allowing women in Latin America access to practical and comprehensive entrepreneurship tools necessary for starting and growing their own enterprises. They use scalable resources such as inexpensive tablets and support networks to support women entrepreneurs in Mexico, Chile, Peru, and Colombia. Women involved with this platform will be able to work with mentors, crowdsource ideas, and formally register their businesses within the support network available to them.
Currently, only one out of 10 businesses run by women is formally registered. Women Moving the World intends to increase this statistic to five out of 10. By the end of 2014, they plan on reaching 12,500 women through the development of a franchise model made up of strong female entrepreneurs willing to act as mentors and role models. Within five years, Women Moving the World aspires to reach 20 million women in Latin America and expand to Senegal, Nigeria and Kenya.
10 Promising Projects with $500 award each: