By Shruti Sonal:
Have you ever wondered how simple life would be as a woman if you could pee standing? Or have chulhas that don’t choke you? As it turns out, innovative use of technology has made these wishes and many more possible, making life easier for women both in the rural and urban sphere. Here are 6 such examples:
1. Water Wheel: One of the key problems faced by women in rural India is the long trek to fetch water that has both physical and socio-economic repercussions. The Water Project highlighted this problem and took up the task of providing an innovative solution to this problem. “Indian women can take up to six trips a day to gather and transport water. These walks in rural regions can average ten miles a day, carrying up to fifteen liters every trip. The women load jars or buckets on their heads to carry water. The heat increases their exhaustion, and they’re removed from being able to make an income, better care for their children, or in a younger girl’s circumstance, be able to get a proper education.”
Designed by Wello, an American social venture company to facilitate the transportation of water in a more efficient and hygienic manner. It consists of a round 50-litre container made of plastic that makes it possible to roll down water instead of physically carrying it from the water source.
2. Smokeless chulhas: As per an NDTV report, over 140 million households in India still use chulhas with wood, cow dung or charcoal being used as fuel. Given it is mostly on women that the burden of cooking falls on, not only does this lead to indoor pollution that impacts women’s health but also adversely impacts the environment. Project Aanch, undertaken by Enactus, a group of students from IIT Delhi, set out to solve this issue. Although “smokeless chulhas” also work on wood and cow-dung, they emit less smoke and use 1/3rd wood an average chulha consumes.
3. JANMA Birth Kit: Lack of access to healthcare and sanitation, especially at the time of childbirth, is a bane for women in rural India. Ayzh, founded by Zubaida Bai, aims to develop affordable health technologies for women in rural India. JANMA, developed by Ayzh is a clean birth kit that contains simple tools recommended by the WHO and is worth just Rs. 100. The clean kit helps prevent infections that can occur at the time a woman gives birth thereby helping reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. Not only this, Ayzh also increases income of women in rural parts of India by enabling them to be the producers and sellers of tools like sterile birth kits.
4. Life-Saving Dot: Iodine deficiency has been one of the major issues plaguing the health of women in India, leading to cancer in some cases and complications during pregnancy. While supplementary pills are available, many women often don’t take them or have access to them. To tackle this, a joint effort by “Grey for Good“, a philanthropic corporation from Singapore and an Indian NGO called Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Centre was created. Together they created iodine patches known as the Life Saving Dot that can be worn as a bindi. Once placed on the forehead, the daily required amount of iodine (150-220 mg), which is injected into the bindi, is directly absorbed through the skin.
5. Apps That Help: In this smartphone savvy world of today, many apps are working studiously to help tackle problems that women face. Among many, the ‘I’m Shakti’ (IMS) app allows one to reach their emergency contacts by pressing the power button 5 times (in 2 seconds). A preset emergency SMS is then sent along with your GPS location to the people on your emergency list. Similarly, the Nirbhaya App lets the user send an SMS alert or call with a single touch in the event of an emergency. Another unique app is one called “Susuvidha” that collects information about all public toilets located in the vicinity and presents it to users in an easy-to-use format. Till now, over 4,000 toilets from India have been registered in the app’s database and can be found by users when needed.
6. GPower: A program that is a mobile-based data collecting and analysis tool, this was launched by the Child In Need Institute in 2014. Focussed on bettering lives of adolescent girls in particular, members of the team visit localities and ask the girls questions about their education, health, family environment and general well-being, based on which they identify their levels of vulnerability. It looks at this real-time data monitoring to help tackle the issues of child labour, trafficking, malnutrition and even child marriage. As the team says, “We focus on adolescent girls because about 25 percent of India’s population falls into the age group 10-19. They will shape the future of our nation.”
Their timely intervention has proven to benefit the lives of many young girls who are vulnerable and need assistance.
While laws and legislation take care of the bigger problems that plague women, these simple inventions help make the everyday lives of women a tad bit easier. And given the way science is constantly evolving and discovering, we look forward to more such interesting inventions that bring with them #windsofchange for a more equal society where no obstacles of any kind hold women back!