The Girl Who’d Like To Help Women Get An ID

Just learned about Elizabeth Nyamwange from Byron, Illinois, who recently received a $10,000 grant as part of the MIT Solv[ED] Youth Innovation Challenge. Her invention (pictured above) is a solar-powered fingerprint scanner.

Nyamwagne’s idea is to help women in emerging nations use biometrics and blockchain software to create a digital proof of identity — helping them gain access to government services, have access to money, vote and participate in activities that require a national identity. The information collected by the scanner would be uploaded to a public server. Her elevator pitch is below.

“Approaching the climate crisis as a feminist is completely different than approaching the climate crisis without thinking about gender inequality,” Nyamwange told a virtual camp where her entry, and those of nine other finalists, were showcased. If you want to learn more about her, you should check out her website.

Those of us lucky enough to live in countries like the United States are generally ignorant of the challenges faced by women in low-income countries. According to stats from the World Bank ID4D Project, 1 in 2 women in these locations don’t have verified proof of identity — more than 1 billion overall. That’s pretty staggering, and it’s a huge human rights issue.

HP Inc. allied with the MIT on the Girls Save the World Program. More than 800 girls and girl-led teams applied for the latest challenge. Girls from 13 to 18 years of age were eligible; Elizabeth Nyamwange is 16 years old. Information about the other nine finalists is at this link.

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