8 MINS READ
Creating more opportunities for women
There are countless examples of how technology is being used to empower people of all backgrounds, genders, and ages daily.
Even as the world becomes increasingly connected, in parts of India, connectivity still can be a challenge. Google’s ‘Internet Saathi’ initiative helps tackle this issue. It empowers female ambassadors to train and educate women in 300,000 villages on the benefits of internet in their day-to-day life.
Young entrepreneur Rohini Sandeep Shirke started a small bee-keeping business in 2014 in the western India state of Maharashtra. She is now using the internet to promote her product and accept online orders. The subsequent uptick in profitability wouldn’t have been possible without Internet Saathi.
From abilities to opportunities
Many leaders harness technology for good causes when they sense that a group or community is facing injustice.
For Carlos Pereira, driven by the passion to empower people by enabling them to have a voice, this sense of injustice falls close to home. His 10-year-old daughter Clara cannot walk or talk because she was born with cerebral palsy.
To give his daughter a voice, Pereira quit his job as a computer scientist and developed an app to help her communicate. Called Livox, the app’s algorithms can interpret motor, cognitive and visual disorders, and it uses machine learning to predict and understand what the person might want or need. The Livox app can be used by people living with a range of disabilities, including Down’s Syndrome, multiple sclerosis and the effects of a stroke. For Clara, the app has given her a voice. When her dad asks her what she wants for breakfast, the app recognizes his voice and gives Clara the options on the screen, allowing her to select what she wants.
The app also gives disabled children a more inclusive education. At school, the software can hear a teacher’s question, and provide appropriate multiple-choice answers for the student to select. The United Nations named Livox the Best Inclusion App in the World.
Championing growth through learning
The on-screen technology used by apps like Livox opens up a world of possibilities previously closed off to the millions of people who cannot read or write. Overcoming illiteracy is central to making the world a more inclusive place. According to UNESCO, 781 million adults are illiterate, and two thirds of them are women.
Entrepreneur Ambarish Mitra has developed an app, called Blippar, that combines augmented reality with voice recognition. He says that it could provide a huge step toward eradicating illiteracy. The app reads out printed words and identifies objects that the phone’s camera focuses on.
For several communities, technology is helping create more career opportunities not just for today’s workforce but also for future generations.
For several communities, technology is helping create more career opportunities not just for today’s workforce but also for future generations. With better pay parity and greater access to jobs, the tech sector is enabling a higher degree of inclusion and economic sustainability. Initiatives like the GoIT program, which was launched in North America in 2009, aim to demystify computer science and help students gain the skills and confidence required to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.