Miss Tech Nepal is an annual national competition designed by women to engage women in technology. Organized by the Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN) and partners, the event generates ideas to address issues faced by women using technology. The event is supported by the American Embassy in Nepal through its Girls in Tech program.
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) partnered with RAN for the second iteration of the event in 2017. ICIMOD helped form the theme of the event – Mountain Women: Transformational Changes through Technology. The event defined five challenges across five challenge categories – occupation, migration, violence, social status, and information. It brought together government agencies, non-government agencies, technology companies, and 10 local groups working for women empowerment in Nepal.
Fifty-two women from across Nepal – engineers, IT enthusiasts, hackers, students, designers, entrepreneurs, and businesspersons – formed 16 teams at the event. Over a two-day hackathon, the teams developed solutions for everything from promoting mountain ecotourism and mountain products to generating awareness of women’s health. Industry professionals mentored teams and helped them develop their framework and consolidate their ideas to build prototypes.
In a final day-long event, teams pitched their ideas and presented their prototypes to a panel of judges and the audience. The panel chose three winning teams based on presentation, technical innovation, and whether a product addressed challenges faced by women in mountainous regions.
Mountain Girls, a team of engineering students from Kathmandu and Pokhara, took first prize and NPR 50,000 for their strap-on pregnancy belt. Designed to address increasing maternal mortality in the mountains, the prototype featured a heartbeat monitor, temperature sensors, and a Wi-Fi module. The belt would share daily stats with the physician and warn the mother and physician of abnormalities via the cloud.
Team project Awaj won second prize for an application to report gender-based violence. Developed on a palm-sized Raspberry Pi computer, the application would record spoken complaints from victims and transmit them along with biometric and location information via an online server to concerned authorities for investigation.
Team Nova Tech’s “Automatic Green House Farming System” took third prize for an automatic irrigation facility that would work by detecting soil moisture.
The competition helps reinforce that women are as capable as men in working in technology. By providing a platform for women to collaborate on problem-solving, and making champions of deserving candidates, we help redress the lack of women in science and technology and the dearth of women tech entrepreneurs.
By supporting such platforms, ICIMOD, through its SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya (SERVIR-HKH) initiative, helps build the capacity of event partners and the women and works toward gender transformative change in the mountains.
A part of the global SERVIR network – a joint development initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – SERVIR-HKH aims to build capacity for informed decision making. It uses a service planning approach, integrating gender into the design, deployment, and delivery of its services, and uses a continuous feedback loop to address gender concerns.
Mentors helped the participating teams develop their framework and build prototypes
PranitaUpadhaya, Executive Director of the Nepal Innovation Technology Center, Ministry of Science and Technology, awardedTeam Mountain Girlsfirst prize for their prototype to address maternal mortality
David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD,givesa runner up award to Team Project Awaz for their prototype to report gender based violence in the mountains