Five Kenyan girls are in line to win a $15,000 prize for developing an application helping fight Female Genital Mutilation – which is prevalent in parts of the country despite being illegal.
The five girls – aged between 15 – 17, are the sole African representatives at the Technovation event to be held at the headquarters of Google in California, the United States.
Their app is known as the I-cut, its main aim is to put an end to FGM. I-cut presents a total assistance mechanism to girls at risk of FGM. It also connects victims with rescue centres and gives legal and medical help to those who have been cut.
Its simple interface has five buttons – help, rescue, report, information on FGM, donate and feedback – offering users different services, Reuters reports.
The international Technovation contest, is a platform where girls develop mobile apps to end problems facing their communities.
Technovation, is sponsored by Google, Verizon and the United Nations, aside promoting tech innovation among girls, it aims to teach girls the skills they need to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders.
“FGM is a big problem affecting girls worldwide and it is a problem we want to solve,” Stacy Owino, one of the girls told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“This whole experience will change our lives. Whether we win or not, our perspective of the world and the possibilities it has will change for the better.”
The five girls from Kenya’s western city of Kisumu call themselves the ‘Restorers’ because they want to “restore hope to hopeless girls”, said Synthia Otieno, one of the team.
One in four Kenyan women and girls have undergone FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, even though it is illegal in the East African nation. Although the girls’ Luo community does not practice FGM, they have friends who have been cut.
Kenya is one of the most technologically advanced countries in Africa, known for its pioneering mobile money transfer apps.