Closing the gap between women and technology

winners with their chequeIn November 2016, Devs Without Borders organized the Break Inequality Hackathon in partnership with Plan Canada. This two-day event took place in the Google headquarters in Kitchener-Waterloo, bringing developers together to create solutions for disadvantaged women in the rural communities of Bangladesh.

Esther Lee, an aspiring UX designer and second year Global Business and Digital Arts student at the University of Waterloo, along with four other group members, created this new idea for an app called the “Red Tracker.” Red Tracker is an SMS service that monitors the fertility of married women in Bangladesh for safe family planning.

We chose to focus on maternal health because premature deaths are extremely high in Bangladesh. Premature deaths can happen because the women are unaware of their pregnancy and don’t take the proper precautions needed to maintain a safe pregnancy.

With this information, the group decided to create an app that would make it easier for women in Bangladesh to monitor their ovulation and fertility with a simple SMS-based system. This app would allow a woman to text the Red Track number and share the start date of her period. Using that start date, the app will let her know when she might be ovulating, along with an expected date of when her next period should start. If a period is missed, the user will be informed of her possible pregnancy and a community health worker will be notified to conduct a personal assessment.

red tracker logo

Amongst the 20 groups participating in the hackathon, the Red Tracker idea won the Innovation Award and second place overall, earning Esther and her group a $500 cheque from Thalmic Labs.

Participating in this hackathon has given me a lot more confidence in my decisions and how I view myself. I felt like I’ve always been in the shadows, seeing other people create awesome things as I stood from afar and watched. Being a part of this experience confirmed that with courage and dedication, I am also able to be a leader in innovation - I’m not just another bystander!

Esther hopes to continue developing her app and to join more hackathons in the future. As a designer, she hopes to incorporate her create skills and capabilities in the world of technology and is working towards bridging the gap between women and technology.

Visit Esther’s website to learn more about Red Tracker and her work.

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