Technovation Girls wrapped up its 11th season this year, and this year, just like the last 10 years, we were blown away by the problems girls chose to solve. Technovation Girls teams took on problems like gender disparity in household chores, access to clean water, wildfire safety and preparedness, COVID-19 safety, elder care and so much more.
The problems girls choose to solve are the same problems world leaders take on everyday. Girls are champions, and leaders, and changemakers—and we can be champions for them.
The kinds of problems Technovation Girls solved in 2021
Technovation incorporates the United Nations General Assembly’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our curriculum. They are not a required part of the submission, but we encourage students to consider how their technology product might address one of the SDGs. We also incorporate the SDGs into our framing of the ideation process and encourage students to situate themselves and their communities in a more global context, nudging them towards choosing complex, meaningful problems to solve. Technovation has been partnering with UN Agencies for several years, and in 2021 announced a partnership to focus on climate change with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), and we are proud to be members of UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition.
Every year we categorize teams’ submissions by which SDG they address, and align them to an abbreviated version of the SDG goals: poverty, the environment, peace, equality, education, or health. We’ve been doing this since 2017, and we love to understand which issues matter most to girls in a given year. Since we began analyzing submissions this way, the clear and consistent standout has been apps that address SDGs related to good health and well-being (Our “health” category covers SDG Goals 2, 3, and 6: Good Health and Well-Being, Clean Water and Sanitation, and Zero Hunger.)
Nearly a third of all teams (32%)in 2021 developed technology tools to tacklehealth-related problems. This includes apps for mental health, apps to help children undergoing surgery, apps to ensure safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, and apps to encourage healthy lifestyles. While health was the most common topic addressed across all regions, 38% of teams from Africa and North America created health-focused technology this year.
Environmental issues were the second-most popular type of issue teams addressed this year, with 22% of all teams developing tech solutions for environmental issues. A large number of these apps explicitly focused on climate change, although there were hundreds of environment-focused apps submitted in total, including ones addressing clean water and sanitation, deforestation, plastic pollution and more. Environmental issues were particularly top of mind in Europe, where 26% of all submitted apps had an environmental focus. (For the 2021-2022 season, we will be awarding a Climate Prize, supported by HSBC, to a team that meaningfully tackles climate change)
The apps submitted this year addressed a range of important issues—12% of Technovation Girls teams addressed equality (up 4% from last year) and 8% of teams addressed Poverty. 4% of teams addressed peace, and 16% of teams addressed education (an increase of more than 10% year over year). The remaining 7% of teams addressed problems that don’t fit neatly into our 6 categories but still matter a great deal, including issues related to Goal 9: industry, innovation and infrastructure.
A region-by-region look at what problems girls solve with technology
While the trends discussed above hold true—50% or more of all apps developed in each region address issues related to health or the environment—there are regional differences in the problems girls tackled this year. For instance, more teams in Africa (9% of all apps from teams in the region) addressed issues related to peace compared to other regions, while more teams in Latin America addressed issues related to equality (17% of all apps from the region). Teams in Europe led the way in focusing on education, with 20% of all apps addressing education-related issues, while Africa and North America tied for the top focus on health, which each region showing 38% of all apps focusing on issues tied to health and well-being. (Learn more about the local impact of Technovation Girl’s Chapters, for a deeper look at multi-year impact on girls around the world.)
It’s interesting to see what problems matter most to girls, and where certain issues are particularly resonant each year. But the bigger picture is that girls everywhere are passionate about solving a lot of problems—and they have the courage to take them head on. So let’s support them.
When given the opportunity, support, and tools they need, girls around the world help push us towards a brighter global future. This year you can champion girls everywhere by supporting Technovation with a donation, so that we can reach and empower more girls in 2022 and beyond. You can also support girls with the gift of your time and attention as a mentor for this season, or give a girl in your life the gift of believing her capability to create change and invite her to participate in Technovation Girls in 2022.