Origin of the Competition
Women’s Safety is the Gateway to Education, Prosperity, and World Peace
I have always been passionate about empowering girls and women around the world, and today I am inspired by the potential of technology to find a solution for the safety of girls and women around the world.
Our safety from physical, social and emotional harm is a fundamental human right. This is also the belief of the United Nations, which lists gender empowerment as a critical Sustainable Development Goal. In order to achieve this, women need to be safe. However, that is currently not the case with one in three women globally facing physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. And one in five women are assaulted on college campuses in the US alone and 90% don’t even report the assault. Nine in 10 women in India have faced some sort of sexual violence in public spaces. We believe that if measures are taken which ensure the safety of women, all of society will benefit.
I am excited to now be working at the intersection of impact and technology. My husband and I launched a $1 million Women’s Safety XPRIZE competition to incentivize innovators everywhere to design a technology-based solution that sets a new safety standard for girls and women. The competition will allow the innovators of the world to design a transformational tool - a lifeline solution - that can set a new safety standard. Competing teams will develop an affordable solution under $40 per year that will trigger location-accurate alerts in emergency situations, even in low-connectivity scenarios, to transmit alerts to a network of responders and rapidly provide a response to the user within 90-seconds that help is on the way. The goal is to use technology to allow communities everywhere to rapidly respond to threats, ensuring that help is always available.
Creating a wearable device for the primary reason of safety can be an easy entry point which will enable families to participate in a safer society. We have used technology to improve our lives in so many ways (from tracking our steps to building driverless cars), and yet women all around the world – regardless of where they live – still feel unsafe. We believe that we can use technology to create a world where women don’t have to worry about their safety, and can instead focus on fulfilling their full potential.
Once a girl is safe, she can go to school, get a job, and build a business, creating ripple effects that are felt throughout her family, her community and our world. This has certainly been the case for myself and my two sister and brother; our father wanted to ensure we were equipped with the best education so that we could be independent and on equal footing as men. He strongly believed that education was the secret to a life of freedom.
I share my father’s beliefs and view education as the most effective tool in transforming the trajectory of a girl’s life. And yet, in many parts of the world, girls will not receive an education because it is dangerous to send them to schools. Safety and education should not be luxuries. Even in western countries, women face a multitude of situations in which their safety is an issue. Since women typically reinvest 90% of their income back into their communities, as compared to only 35% for men, when you educate a girl and help her get a job, you are bringing prosperity not only to her and her family, but to our world.
Let’s all find a solution and make the world safer for women.
Anu is an entrepreneur. She holds a BA in business administration and economics from SUNY, Stony Brook, NY, and an MBA from Rutgers University in New Jersey. She grew up in Jerusalem, Israel and the neighboring countries as a UN child. Anu is on several non-profit boards focused on making a positive impact in the world. She and her husband have three children who are all entrepreneurs and actively involved in making a positive impact.