My dream of achieving women’s safety worldwide is finally one step closer to becoming a reality.
As I arrived in Mumbai, India, for the final team testing of the Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE competition, my heart raced with excitement. I was finally going to meet the twenty semifinalist teams from around the world who had been working on finding a solution since the launch of the competition in October 2016, and I would get to see their technology solutions for the first time.
Teams ranged from University students, to scientists, to entrepreneurs, engineers, parents, and victims of abuse. All from different walks of life and all with the same goal of providing immediate help to girls and women in times of assault.
The members of the teams were so passionate and dedicated to finding a solution and were here, not for the one-million-dollar prize purse, but to really focus on and solve the problem of women’s safety, which has been overlooked for generations. The prize had incentivized them to enter the competition, but now, as competitive as they all were, the teams were working together to find the best solution to the problem.
The teams presented their solutions to a panel of judges, composed of high caliber individuals from all over the world; from a distinguished former FBI agent, to a retired US Army veteran and awarded entrepreneurs and engineers.
Five teams advanced to the finals. These teams sweated out days of testing and demonstrated their prototypes in public spaces- on trains, buses, and in secure buildings in sweltering temperatures of 90 degrees and higher.
Solutions ranged from wearable devices with biosensors which automatically triggered emergency alerts, to smart jewelry - rings, pendants, watches and clip-on devices, all which met the criteria to advance to the final testing round.
Today, the World Health Organization estimates that about one in three women worldwide have experienced either physical and / or sexual violence in their lifetime. A staggering number that we need to end with advocacy against women’s violence. We need to provide safety nets for those in danger and find real time solutions.
As I got to observe everyone in action, I was awestruck by how all the teams had become so close to each other and were passionately discussing ways to work together to solve this global problem.
It is amazing to see how incentivized competitions can draw attention from around the world to solve the largest problems that face humanity. We need to look beyond the traditional methods of philanthropy and use innovation and technology to find solutions while also working to change the mindset of people.
As I sat on my flight back home, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement. The Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE has brought together people from different backgrounds across the world to work together to help us get one step closer to my dream: To live in a world where safety would no longer be considered a luxury for girls and women but recognized and accepted as a fundamental human right.