In one of the world’s largest slums, a group of young women is utilizing technology to innovate and develop apps and bring tangible change to their community.
In one of the world’s largest slums, a group of young women is utilizing technology to innovate and develop apps and bring tangible change to their community.


Technovation Dharavi (Photo credit: Nawneet Ranjan & Dharavi Diary)

Technovation Dharavi (Photo credit: Nawneet Ranjan & Dharavi Diary)

Dharavi in Mumbai, India is considered to be one of the world’s largest slums. Home to more than one million people, it is a place of hardship and struggle but also hope and innovation. Businesses of every kind thrive in Dharavi, including industries that produce embroidered garments, quality leather goods, pottery, and plastic. One of the most inspiring and innovative endeavors emerging from Dharavi of late is a technological venture being spearheaded by a group of twelve 12- to 14-year old girls.

The girls are driven by a strong desire to break the cycle of poverty by solving problems in their community. A young filmmaker Nawneet Ranjan first met the girls when interviewing Dharavi residents for a documentary. Inspired, Nawneet assisted the girls in renting a small classroom to meet and collaborate and connected them with Technovation, a global technology entrepreneurship program for girls ages 10 to 18. The girls accessed MIT’s App Inventor program to develop an app called “Women Fight Back.” Motivated by the fact that sexual assault is a significant problem in India and women in Dharavi are often harassed when walking home in the evenings, the app helps counter violence against women by allowing users to press a “scream” button that releases an alarm and sends a call to the police. The app also has a GPS and group text feature to notify others and help further the security of women and girls.

After meeting the girls at a PeaceTech Exchange in Mumbai, co-hosted with USIP’s Gender and Peacebuilding program, the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, and Samhita Social Ventures, the PeaceTech Lab at USIP began providing development assistance and technological tutorials to help the girls to release their app on the Google Play Store. The app is currently live on Google Play in India and has been distributed to 50 members of the community. The PeaceTech Lab is also working on enabling the girls to have weekly access to the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai for a stable internet connection and a safer work environment.

Looking ahead, these young technologists are working to develop two more apps to better the lives of women and girls in their community: one app will streamline the water gathering process. Water comes only once a day to Dharavi and girls must skip school in order to wait in lines for hours. This app will enable families to register and secure a place in the queue in advance. The girls are also creating an education app to provide women with basic health and hygiene tips and enable girls, particularly those who cannot attend school, to learn English, math, and Hindi. USIP is fostering long-term engagement with the girls to help them continue to release their apps to a broader user base in the community.


One of the girls displaying their app "Women Fight Back" (Photo credit: Nawneet Ranjan & Dharavi Diary)

The Dharavi girls aspire to launch their apps on the global market and provide access to their technology to a wider community. In the face of extreme poverty and deprivation, the girls have displayed courage, ambition, and extraordinary innovation. They are a testament to the power and agency that young people possess to impact their communities and bring about positive change.

Watch a video about the Dharavi girls here.

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@iyabadan on Twitter

International Women’s Day 2016 | The Odu Ose Otura

International Women’s Day 2016 | The Odu Ose Otura

As part of the celebration and  the commerotation of the International Women’s Day 2016, we seek to look into the place of women and accolades they get especially in the religious parlance. So here is a guest post from Iyalorisa Ifawemimo Omitonade Egbelade on the special place, power  and honour expected of a woman in the Yoruba Traditional religion as exemplified in Odu Ose Otura

The Odu Ose Otura Speaks about the power of women. It says if they are not given honour and respect then they can be angered and they have the ability to destroy the world. The lives of all males are in the hand of the female. If an husband  succeeds let us look at his wife. The success of the family is in the hand of the woman. The Odu teaches us not to undervalue women. Ifa Says:

Ajuba Agberegede

A difa fun Osun Sengese

Oloya Iyun

Nijo tin be nipo Asiri

Ton ba Oun Ebo Awon Imole Iyoku je

Nje te ni n be leyin te fi tie se

Osun Ewuji ni n be nibe tefi ti e se

A wa n kunle

A n be O

E je Ka kunle fun Obinrin

Tori pe Obinrin lo biwa

Kawa to di eniyan

English Translation

Ajuba Agberegede

Divined for Osun Sengese

Owner of a hair comb decorated with Iyun

When she was in a secret place

She spoiled the sacrifice of other Divinities

Who is performing a sacrifice without involving the owner of the sacrifice?

Osun Ewuji was the person who you are not involving in the sacrifice

We are all on our knees

We are begging you

Let us kneel and prostrate before women

We are all born by women

Before we become recognized as human beings.

This was when the Divinities tried to exclude Osun from the account of origin of tradition of creating the world by certain Yoruba gods. It was said that given the exclusion of Osun from the process  all the creation began to crumble. When they reported their misfortune to Olodumare, he said nothing can be created without woman(Osun), for your creation to be manifested you must ask Osun to work with you….


Iyalorisa Omitonade Ifawemimo


@iyabadan on Twitter