On March 22, 2013, the World Bank announced the Top 10 finalists of the Sanitation Hackathon App Challenge . Empowering Girls, an app created by Trinity College Student Pauline Lake and K8 Computer Science Teacher Patrice Gans, along with mentors Trishan de Lanerolle and Professor Ralph Morelli, was one of the top 10.
Empowering Girls is a text-based app that could be used to track girls' attendance in Cameroon schools, before and after gender-friendly facilities were introduced into the schools. Without these facilities, girls miss school one week per month. The objective of this app is to help determine the impact of an NGO by tracking girls' attendance. Their inspiration comes from the problem Sanitation + Girls = Education + Empowerment.
Here's the blog post written by Patrice Gans, one of the creators of the app:
On March 22, the World Bank announced the 10 finalists for the Sanitation Hackathon App Challenge Sanitation Hackathon App Challenge . Much to my surprise, the app Empowering Girls that I created with Trinity College Student Pauline Lake, along with our mentors Trishan de Lanerolle and Professor Ralph Morelli was one of the top 10.
The creation of this app began last December at the Sanitation Hackathon App Challenge held in conjunction with the Global Random Hacks of Kindness event at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. The goal of the hackathon, which was sponsored locally by the Humanitarian FOSS Project and Center for Urban and Global Studies, was to encourage "citizen-designed and technology-enabled solutions to sanitation challenges in the developing world." This was my first experience hacking for social good. As a K8 Computer Science teacher, the idea of using technology to create real-world solutions to social concerns was a powerful message that I was eager to share with my students.
Our app, Empowering Girls, was the direct result of the "Sanitation + girls = education + empowerment" problem that was posted to the Sanitation Hackathon site. The problem called for a text-based app that could be used to track girls' attendance in Cameroon schools, before and after gender-friendly facilities were introduced into the schools. As both educators and females, Pauline and I found that the "Sanitation + girls = education + empowerment" problem hit close to home. Also, with previous experience with mobile app creation using App Inventor, we felt that we could use our expertise to make a useful app to address the sanitation problem in Cameroon. Thus our app, Empowering Girls, was born.
The objective of our app, Empowering Girls, is to help determine the impact of an NGO by tracking girls' attendance in conjunction with the implementation of a school-based menstrual education program, improved girl-friendly sanitation facilities, and the introduction of proper menstrual hygiene products. By empowering the girls at the local schools to record their own attendance, the app would help the NGO evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions.
Sadly, many girls in developing countries do not get a proper education. According to a 2005 report from UNICEF Sanitation: the challenge "1 in 10 school-age African girls "do not attend school during menstruation, or drop out at puberty because of the lack of clean and private sanitation facilities in schools" .
The lack of proper sanitation facilities and timely menstrual education has been shown to play a significant role in the attendance rate for young girls. It has been theorized that with proper Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM), attendance rates would rise, thus helping girls get the education they deserve.
Now we wait. The Grand Prize Award winners of the Sanitation Hackathon App Challenge will be announced on April 19, on the eve of the World Bank's Spring Meetings. In the meanwhile, I am thrilled to have been able to participate in such an important event. My first experience "hacking for humanity" was very inspiring, both as a K-8 Computer Science teacher and as a humanitarian endeavor; which, unbeknownst to most, can actually go together. No matter how this ends, the journey has been one I look forward to repeating. I can't wait to participate in the next Random Hacks of Kindness event. Count me in!
For additional information about the finalists and to watch the videos check out the Sanitation Hackathon Homepage