Back in September of 2011, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama issued a call to action to countries around the world to “break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls.” As part of America’s answer to this call, the White House launched the Equal Futures App Challenge – to create apps that inspire girls and young women to become leaders in our democracy.
Following on the first-ever White House Codeathon this past December, tech companies, non-profits and youth and education organizations across the country joined together to support this challenge by hosting a series of codeathons that took place simultaneously in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston earlier this month.
Altogether, around 125 seasoned technologists and girls of all ages spent the day brainstorming and building apps to submit to the challenge. And we were excited to join all three of the codeathons via video conference and see so many eager and inspired coders ready to tackle such an important issue.
As a result of these codeathons, teams are hard at work designing and developing their way to new apps that inspire girls to run for office and serve as leaders in their communities and our government.
And excitement about this challenge is building, both in the tech community and beyond. Leaders from a variety of sectors have stepped up to serve as judges, including Academy Award-Winning actor Geena Davis, who stated, “Teen girls are stepping up as leaders in extraordinary ways these days. This contest will help them inspire more girls to lead, and we will need them -- as creators of technology, as entrepreneurs and leaders in business, and in our State Houses, the Houses of Congress and the White House.”
Another Challenge judge, Jocelyn Goldfein, Director of Engineering at Facebook, noted, "I believe in the power of teenage girls to change the world. I am inspired by their courage, determination, and vision. Developing women leaders is one of the best investments I can think of toward social justice, eradicating poverty, and making a better world."
For more information about the challenge, please visit: equalfutures.challenge.gov – and remember to submit your app by 12:00am EDT on January 19.
Brian Forde is Senior Advisor to the U.S. CTO for Mobile and Data Innovation
Sarah Hurwitz is Senior Advisor to the Council on Women and Girls