According to Mashable, five teenage girls from Kenya had a dream of ending female genital mutilation (FGM) in their country. It looks like their dream is coming true sooner than later. They're headed to California for the 2017 Technovation Challenge, a competition taking place in Silicon Valley later this month that helps girls around the world become tech entrepreneurs.
The app's creators — Stacy Owino, Cynthia Otieno, Purity Achieng, Mascrine Atieno, and Ivy Akinyi — call themselves "The Restorers" because it's their mission to "restore hope to hopeless girls," Otieno said.
The app they created is called i-Cut and provides girls with easy access to legal and medical assistance before and after FGM. FGM is a non-medical procedure that involves the total or partial removal of a woman's external genitalia. While it is illegal in Kenya, it's still practiced because of its cultural significance as a rite of passage and prerequisite for marriage.
With the i-Cut app, girls who are being forced to undergo the procedure can alert authorities. Survivors can also report their violations to local authorities and find local rescue centers where they can get help with the simple touch of a button.
The app's interface includes five different buttons: "help," "rescue," "report," "information on FGM," and "donate and feedback."
The Restorers were the only African team selected to go to this year's Technovation Challenge. The Challenge, which is sponsored by Google, Verizon, and the United Nations, offers winners $15,000 to help them continue their app's development.
"This whole experience will change our lives," Owino said. "Whether we win or not, our perspective of the world and the possibilities it has will change for the better."
"We just have to use this opportunity as a stepping stone to the next level," Akinyi added.
The Restorers hope is their app will allow girls to decide their own destinies while also raising safety concerns. FGM is a deep-rooted social practice handed down from parent to child. While the app could save a girl from FGM, it might also cause family rifts and expose her to more violence. With that in mind, the app might be most effective when introduced to communities alongside educational empowerment programs.
The girls' Luo tribe in Kenya has denounced the practice of FGM, however, they still know girls who have been cut. They spoke of a fellow classmate who left school after the procedure.
"We were very close, but after she was cut she never came back to school," Achieng said. "She was among the smartest girls I knew."
Check out the girls talk about their experience and their goals with the app below. Amazing job, ladies!