Category Archives: Organization Spotlight

Girls Who _______

“Code.” That’s how Reshma Saujani  filled in the blank in 2012 when the former NYC deputy public advocate announced a new initiative to introduce girls to the power of the tech space and their potential within it.

Increasingly, the modern day women’s movement has gained momentum with a speed that is remarkable even for the lightning fast pace at which we live ensconced within our own technology-driven worlds. Perhaps in a few years, it will be equally probable that it is a woman who is developing the products and programs that make it so.

After all, the statistics are staggering. Visit the Girls Who Code website and you’ll learn that the number of computer science graduates from American institutions of higher education has decreased by 25% since 1984. Women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but hold only 25% of jobs in the technical and computing fields. 74% of girls express interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) while in middle school, but a paltry 0.3% of girls select computer science when high school comes around.

When Saujani saw firsthand the paucity of girls in technology classrooms in schools across the nation while she was on the campaign trail, she decided to work to close the gap. And that was the inception of an idea that has turned into a an initiative designed to educate, inspire, and motivate girls to pursue STEM fields. 

Recently launched in Spring 2012, Girls Who Code offers summer immersion programs in New York City, Detroit, MI, San Francisco, San Jose, and Davis, CA. Free of charge, the program provides intensive instruction in computer science, robotics, algorithms, web design and mobile development as well as exposure to leading women in the field and mentorship opportunities.

Launched with a veritable army of corporate sponsors, including Twitter, eBay, Intel, Goldman Sachs, AT&T and IAC, the Girls Who Code program will no doubt continue to grow in the future.

I chose to feature Saujani’s initiative in this post because, well, it is inspiring–she took initiative and turned idealism into impact (to borrow from friend and Harvard graduate Nina Vasan’s Do Good Well). By the same token, Saujani is in good company and joins a cohort of many other leaders who are joining the burgeoning “women’s movement” to empower women all around the world. From Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In to Frida Giannini’s Chime for Change, there is no shortage of initiatives in the ‘women’s empowerment space.’ I for one am heartened by the enthusiasm, idealism, and inspiration with which these initiatives were born and am eager to see what kind of impact will come of them in the years to come. It very well may be the case that our daughters live in a very different world than we do, even if that seems nearly impossible for us to imagine now. Because, after all, we already do live in the age of limitless possibility, don’t we? That means that it can only be up from here—it also means that we will have to take the initiative to fill in the blank ourselves.

And, one last thing, :)

Ladies, amidst all of the powerful rumblings of the women’s movement, let’s not forget the men that will always be a vital part of our home and work environments. Progress is not purely about women’s empowerment, but about empowerment that uplifts people of all genders so that productivity may always be considered the inseparable twin of togetherness.

Tomorrow, Inesha and I are off to the Women in the World Summit in NYC! (where, coincidentally, Reshma Saujani will be speaking) More updates soon!




Maternal Musings

Now, I realize that there are so many (amusing) ways that the title of this post could be misconstrued. Knowing this, I feel obliged to put your doubts to rest right now, for this 19 year old is still a momma’s girl and the only ‘maternal’ pangs I have are for my own mother, because gosh, sometimes I do miss her so hopelessly much. Even though we’re whirring and spinning through this crazy college life, where we bump into each other for the dinner date or the movie night or the study session, all the while we’re still very much on our own tracks. Sometimes I wish that I was still young enough to be in the backseat with my mom at the wheel. But, at least when I go home and attempt to drive a car, one of my parents will inevitably insist that they follow behind me in their car or sit beside me in the passenger’s seat– now, that may sound equally hopeless, but its still endearing and luckily I’ve mustered up the courage to politely refuse once in a while :)

The real reason I write is to share a personal passion of mine: Maternal Health. And a wonderful program called the Young Champions of Maternal Health, run out of the Maternal Health Task Force Project at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Participating in the first-ever international fellowship that focuses specifically on developing the next generation of leaders which will fight for the maternal health cause, the Young Champions are entrepreneurs, innovators, global health enthusiasts, and activists who develop a project to improve the quality of maternal healthcare in poor resource settings.

Working in the priority areas of Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, and Mexico, these Maternal Health Youth Champions include Solomon Abebe Addis of Ethiopia, who is working to research news ways of improving the health of HIV positive mothers, Priya John of India, who is hoping to gain clinical experience while improving efforts to document and report maternal deaths at the local level, and Luz Maria Soto Pizano of Mexico, who is working to develop programs for pregnant women to ensure that they receive the care that they need.

Here are the facts:

194 women die out of every 100,000 live births in Bangladesh

13,000 women in Tanzania die every year due to labor and pregnancy-related complications

Nearly 70,000 young women die every year because their bodies are not ready for motherhood

90% of these deaths are preventable.

Now, meet the solution:

The Young Champions. their mentors, and IIE staff enjoy GMHC2013.

The current class of Young Champions, their mentors, and IIE staff at the 2013 Global Maternal Health Conference.