5 girls from Phnom Penh demonstrate the power of an app and a smart idea

At Google's campus in Silicon Valley this week, teams of girls ages 10 to 18 are competing in an international mobile app competition. The Technovation World Pitch Summit promotes STEM education by encouraging girls to learn and apply technology to solve problems in their communities. This year's competition involved 11,000 girls – and 12 teams of finalists are in Silicon Valley this week to pitch their ideas, vie for scholarships and visit tech companies. They all look like winners. -- Liz Enbysk


UPDATED Aug. 11 

The Cambodia Identity Product – a mobile app created by a team of 11- and 12-year-olds from Phnom Penh -- aims to help develop Cambodia's economy and reduce poverty by promoting traditional Khmer products made by local artisans.

The app enables the craftspeople to sell their products, typically hats, clothes and souvenirs, to customers internationally. The free app is already available in the Google Play store.

As one team member proudly told The Cambodia Daily, they want to show the world that Cambodian girls can do technology. This was the first year a team from there made the finals.

This is the eighth season of the Technovation Challenge, launched in partnership with Google's Made with Code and UN Women. And while the girls from Phnom Penh are inspiring, they're not alone. Consider some of the other finalists pitching their apps this week, with apps promoting everything from world peace to equality:

  • GoGirl – created by a team from California – is described as "a gamified representation of the real issues many girls around the world face. Players must get to school on time avoiding obstacles that cost time and collecting prizes that award more time. GoGirl hopes to give girls the confidence and the means to solve problems they may face."
  • Dementia Care Companion – developed by a team from Jordan, Hong Kong – "provides dementia patients with personalized trainings and games to help them maintain their abilities to interact with loved ones. We also provide a corresponding family app which allows family members to monitor patient progress through game statistics."
  • iCut – by a team from Kisumu, Kenya --  is an android app "that helps fight Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by providing a platform to report FGM cases and support FGM victims. FGM violates girls' right to security and physical integrity, and their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment."

When the awards were announced, the Junior Grand Prize went to the team from Jordan, Hong Kong who created the dementia app and the Senior Grand Prize to a team from Almaty, Kazakhstan, whose QamCare app helps users keep track of loved ones. For the girls from Cambodia, there's always next year.

See descriptions and videos of all 12 teams in the Technovation finals.

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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