Exxonmobil, Ashoka’s Changemakers and ICRW Launch Women’s Economic Development Challenge

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Exxonmobil, Ashoka’s Changemakers and the International Center for Research on Women Launch Women’s Economic Development Challenge

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Jeannie Bunton, 202.742.1316, [email protected]

IRVING, T.X. – ExxonMobil, in partnership with Ashoka’s Changemakers and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), today launched Women | Tools | Technology: Building Opportunities & Economic Power, an innovative challenge that will identify transformative solutions for promoting women’s economic advancement through technology.

Through the Women | Tools | Technology Challenge, the partners are looking for creative ideas and sustainable approaches that enable more women from developing countries to be active contributors to and leaders in our rapidly changing economy.

“We hope that the ideas and solutions generated through Women | Tools | Technology will spark a profound transformation in the way women in developing countries live and work,” said Lorie Jackson, director of ExxonMobil’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative.

“Technology has the potential to initiate a chain reaction that results in women’s economic advancement and, in turn, raises their standard of living, strengthens their families and communities and, contributes to significant global progress.”

The ideas and solutions generated through Women | Tools | Technology can be new or improve upon existing technologies to enable them to benefit more women. Innovators with concepts for catalyzing women’s economic advancement through technology will be able to submit their ideas through a crowd-sourcing, online format that allows for discussion and collaboration among other innovators and select experts. Submissions will be accepted from January 27 through April 14 at http://www.changemakers.com/en-us/technologywomen.
Entries will be judged by a panel of experts, including Pam Darwin, ExxonMobil’s vice president of Geoscience, Geeta Rao Gupta, president of ICRW, Andrés Carlos Randazzo, Ashoka Fellow and founder of SANUT, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, co-founder and executive director of the African Women’s Development Fund and Christine Grumm, president and chief executive officer of the Women’s Funding Network. Finalists will be announced in mid-June.

“Women’s economic advancement is often directly related to their ability to access and use technology,” said Charlie Brown, executive director of Ashoka’s Changemakers. “We’re excited to work with some of the most creative innovators from around the world to develop ground-breaking solutions to leverage technology to live up to its promise of changing the world – the whole world – for the better.”

Additional direction and focus for the challenge is provided by a new research study entitled, “Bridging the Gender Divide: How Technology Can Advance Women Economically,” which was conducted by ICRW and funded by the ExxonMobil Foundation. The white paper, which explores the link between technology and women’s economic empowerment, is being released to coincide with the challenge launch and showcases existing technologies that help women increase their productivity, create new entrepreneurial ventures, and launch income-generating pursuits. The paper highlights what needs to be done to improve the way technologies are developed and deployed so they benefit women, enabling them to be more successful economic actors, stronger leaders, and greater contributors to their families, communities and domestic economies.

“When you consider the untapped potential of half the world’s workforce, the combination of women, tools and technology can trigger truly transformative change,” said Anju Malhotra, vice president for Research, Innovation and Impact at ICRW. “Our research offers social innovators practical recommendations on how to develop, introduce, and disseminate technologies that strengthen women’s ability to compete in the global economy.”

The Women | Tools | Technology Challenge is part of ExxonMobil’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative, and was announced at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York in September 2009. At the meeting, ExxonMobil co-sponsored the first-ever Clinton Global Initiative special programming focused on investing in girls and women.

The Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative (previously Educating Women and Girls Initiative) was launched in 2005 and has invested more than $30 million in programs that have directly benefited thousands of women from 64 developing countries. 

Mission Statement:

ICRW’s mission is to empower women, advance gender equality and fight poverty in the developing world. To accomplish this, ICRW works with partners to conduct empirical research, build capacity and advocate for evidence-based, practical ways to change policies and programs.