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Girls building mobile apps have fun at Technovation

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-12 10:32

SAN FRANCISCO - On a normal day, in a conventional scenario, teenagers are consumers of technology, most likely mobile information devices, being addicted to games or social media.

However, on Thursday evening, in the 2017 Technovation World Pitch Summit, at a Mountain View site in Silicon Valley, Northern California, 12 teams of girls from nine countries or regions were technology creators presenting their mobile applications, or apps.

The girls, age 11 to 18, were finalists among what Iridescent, a science education nonprofit organization based in the United States, claimed to be an estimated total of 11,000 girls who worked around the world in teams and with mentors this year to learn and apply technology to solve problems in their communities.

While Technovation is a tech entrepreneurship program for girls from Iridescent, projects competing in the event are required to address at least one issue within the focus areas of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: poverty reduction, quality education, good health and well-being, climate action, peace and justice or gender equality.

Of about 1,100 apps submitted for the competition, one was built by a team of five girls from Kenya, a country in East Africa, who call themselves the Restorers.

Their app, iCut, aims to reach girls who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) and those at risk of the cruel practice, enabling those in imminent danger to hit a panic button, victims to get help and others to report FGM cases.

Another app, known as Cambodia Identity Product, or CIP, provides a platform for uploading and disseminating information about Cambodian products and Cambodian culture.

The five girls from the Southeastern Asian country took the stage and told the audience, during their one-minute final pitch at the Thursday evening event, that they want to help fight poverty, develop economy, promote employment in their country.

A team from Kazakhstan presented QamCare, with Qam originating from a Kazakh word which means "care and support." The app is designed to help users keep track of their loved ones, and allow the retrieval of the last location of a person in case of emergency.

Noting that thousands of people are missing in recent years in their Central Asian country, the girls behind the app said they intend to make it available to everyone.

QamCare was awarded the grand prize in the senior division of the competition.

Celine Mung, 13, and her teammates from Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, brought an app known as DCC, short for Dementia Care Companion. It provides dementia patients with personalized trainings and games to help them maintain their abilities to interact with loved ones.

For her and Michael Nip, the five-member team's coach, the experience of developing the software is personal, as they both personally know somebody suffering from the decline in mental ability, with memory loss as a common symptom.

The team said they will improve the app and try to make it available through dementia care institutions.

Before knowing that DCC is the winner of the grand prize in the junior division, Mung said there is "a lot of fun trying to help people."

Tara Chklovski, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Iridescent, which takes empowering underrepresented young people to become self-motivated learners, inventors and leaders as its mission, asked the 12 teams to send the message out that girls in the technology world can make a difference for the world.

As the event took place at a facility of Google Inc, Sundar Pichai, CEO of the technology company, welcomed the girls at the beginning of the event by saying "you have a place in this industry and in Google."

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