Author: Anu Jain (Member, Women Moving Millions & Founder & President, Naveen & Anu Jain Family Foundation)
My dream of achieving girls and women’s safety worldwide is finally one step closer to becoming a reality. Two years after the launch of the Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s XPRIZE competition, the top five finalist teams are going to be unveiled and the winning team presented with a million-dollar check at the United Nations in New York in June 2018.
As I arrived in Mumbai, India, for the final team testing of the Anu & Naveen Jain Women Safety XPRIZE competition, my heart raced with excitement. I was finally going to meet the semifinalist teams from around the world and see their technology solutions in action! They 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 finding a solution to provide immediate help to girls and women in times of assault.
The members of the 20 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 winning devices ranged from smart jewelry that can trigger emergency alerts to other wearables that detect physical gestures and speech recognition for emergency triggers. All solutions were tested live in front of the judging panel and in simulated testing environments in April 2018 including public transportation in Mumbai, India taking routes unknown to the teams to test the mobility and advanced functionality of their devices.
The Judging Panel was 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.
As I got to observe everyone in action, I was awestruck by how everyone was so focused, crossing all borders, 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 Women’s Safety XPRIZE had 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.