Pakistan start-up looks to break taboos around menstruation

Many women in the country remain uninformed about periods, but a social media-based project is targeting the problem.

Saba Khalid has set herself the goal of breaking some of Islamic Pakistan’s long-held taboos with the help of the internet, smartphones and WhatsApp. “Technology offers a sense of comfort,” she says of the work of Aurat Raaj, her Pakistani social enterprise. It educates women and adolescent girls about menstruation by means of audio messages sent via the WhatsApp social media platform.

Aurat Raaj, whose donors include the UN Children’s Fund, UN Women, the BMW Foundation and the Vodafone Americas Foundation, is not alone in its push to disseminate information about sexuality in conservative Pakistan.

Empower Women and Girls through Technology: a Holistic Approach

A future of true gender equality is possible. With all the studies and advancements to support women and girls in their education and careers, we have the framework in place to secure a future where women and girls can thrive.  I whole-heartedly believe that by investing in the combination of women and technology, we are investing in the ability to make a lasting global impact.

Although we have made amazing progress the last few decades, there obviously is much more to do. Unfortunately, the uphill battle  just got a bit steeper amid the pandemic of the last 18 months, causing increased stress on women and girls. Nearly 3 million women have left the workplace over the last year due to the pandemic. Difficulties have also compounded online in the digital realm.  A recent study found 75% of girls surveyed said they experienced some form of online harassment or abuse. Over 22% of those who had experienced harassment said they shut down an online account due to that harassment. These numbers only reflect a fraction of other hurdles that women and girls face like internet access or the ownership of computers and mobile.


Take a Stand with me Against Asian Hate Crimes

I recently changed my hairstyle, well actually my hair color, due to Covid. After all, I’ve had grey since my twenties, and since Covid there have been fewer reasons to color it — no access to salons, no in person meetings and the mess of DIY hair color. I decided to go au natural. My hair is no longer black; to everyone’s surprise, including me, it’s now quite silver. I’ve heard silver hair is trendy, so I’ve become accidentally fashionable.

This story, however, is not to relay my new fashion sense. My hair color defies my age. Let’s put it this way, I am not old enough to be first in line for the COVID-19 vaccine. But the color now makes me feel more vulnerable. Silver is easily spotted on the street and implies that I’m older and, therefore, an easy mark. What’s worse, it’s compounding another fear of being targeted — because I’m Asian. More

Vodafone Americas Foundation Awards Three MIT Solver Teams the Innovation for Women Prize

The Vodafone Americas Foundation has been committed to fostering change in global and local communities through connected solutions, and as a result, we’ve seen first-hand the impact of technology in tackling some of the world’s biggest issues. We’ve further leveraged this knowledge over the last year to embark on a journey focused on empowering women and girls through technology. By taking this focused approach and making the crucial investment in both women and technology, we believe we are helping to create real global change. More

Vodafone Americas Foundation partners with OpenIDEO to Award $50,000 to COVID Business Pivot Challenge Winners

In the wake of the our current global crisis, we are all challenged to find answers to overcome our latest obstacles, both old and new, that are affecting millions of people worldwide. In an effort to encourage and support solutions to address issues resulting from the pandemic, we partnered with OpenIDEO last month to conduct the COVID Business Pivot Challenge focused on how businesses of all kinds are rapidly adapting to support the immediate needs of the COVID-19 response, and enable a more just and resilient future. More

Vodafone Americas Foundation to Award $50,000 to COVID-19 Business Pivots through the OpenIDEO COVID-19 Business Pivot Challenge Partnership

The global pandemic has changed everything. And while the full impact remains untold, one thing’s for sure, we need new ways to meet new challenges. That’s the spirit of The COVID-19 Business Pivot Challenge, launched last week by OpenIDEO in partnership with the Vodafone Americas Foundation.

The goal of the initiative is to help businesses discover how they can support the world’s immediate needs during the COVID-19 response. I’m positive that there are creative, imaginative and inspirational solutions that can help shape a more just and resilient future – that is the ultimate vision.

As part of this Challenge, the Vodafone Americas Foundation will award a total of $50,000 in funding to five selected submissions ($10,000 each) related to the use of IoT, AI, and/or mobile technology. More

CareMother, OneSky and Raaji Win First-Ever MIT Solve Innovation for Women Awards by Vodafone Americas Foundation

June Sugiyama with MIT Solve Innovation for Women Awards finalists

From left to right: June Sugiyama, Vodafone Americas Foundation with MIT Solve Innovation for Women Awards finalists Morgan Lance of OneSky and Ameya Bondre and Aditya Kulkarni of CareMother

Earlier this year, we announced our partnership with MIT Solve to combine the legacy of our Wireless Innovation Project® program with their distinguished Solver teams awards for Global Challenges to create the Vodafone Americas Foundation Innovation for Women Prize.

The Innovation for Women Prize awards solutions that use technology to empower and enrich the lives of women and girls. We received incredible nominations and submissions over the last few months that underscore how technology can be used to better the lives of women and girls around the world.

At the MIT Challenge Finals in New York this past weekend, we met with finalists for the award as they presented their solutions. After a great weekend of collaboration and competition, we’re excited to announce the winners of the Innovation for Women Prize.

Our New Mission to Empower Women and Girls Through Technology

Photo by Adam Schultz

For the last 10 years, the Vodafone Americas Foundation has been committed to fostering change in global and local communities through connected solutions. In doing so, we’ve seen the true impact of technology in tackling some of the world’s biggest issues. It’s with this knowledge that we’re embarking on a new journey to transform the Vodafone Americas Foundation to focus primarily on empowering women and girls through technology while also supporting our employees around the country to make an impact in their communities.

We believe that by investing in the combination of women and technology, we are investing in change and the ability to make a true social impact globally. With our legacy experience in making social impact through technology for good, we know that by using the right tools to amplify and broaden our reach, we can enrich lives beyond a single woman and girl. In addition, by supporting our employees to make an impact in their local communities, we can collectively make a difference around the globe.

The Potential for Mobile Data to Impact Social Good

In June, a collaboration between UN Global Pulse, the United Nations, and the GSMA released The State of Mobile Data for Social Good report which looks at how mobile big data can be an incredible resource in driving social good efforts around the world.

The report was produced with the support of Vodafone Americas Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), and released at an event at the Vodafone offices in New York.  During the event, a panel of experts representing the mobile data for good ecosystem—MNOs, UN, donors, data scientists— explored what opportunities mobile has opened, the challenges the field is facing, and what actions should be taken in order to improve the outcome of mobile data for global development. More