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Friday, July 10, 2015

An App That Honours 'Invisible' Women Achievers

A new app called 'Women on the Map' buzzes your phone, when you are near a place where a woman has made history. This innovative app concept took off, over concern that women who had made historic contributions to society and had significant achievements to their name, didn’t get honoured in the same way that men did. BBC Newsbeat reported that this app has been included as part of Google's Field Trip app, which points out interest places when you visit different areas. The SPARK Movement worked with Google to develop this. And here are some facts that sparked this initiative in the first place:
    • There are no US holidays named after women
    • There are no women on US paper currency
    • Only nine of the 100 statues in the US National Statuary Hall are of women.
    • Fewer than 25% of US postage stamps honoring people feature women
    • In New York City there are 150 statues of people: 145 are men and 5 are of women.

    So to make prominent women visible and make their contributions better known than they are at the moment, users have to select the Women On The Map source within the Google app, to get the alerts. Their phone will then buzz when they approach the exact location where a woman has done something extraordinary, and they can then read all about her and her achievements. 
Here is an example, if you visit the town of Lyme Regis in Dorset, the app alerts you to the work of Mary Anning, who discovered fossils of a Plesiosaurus. So far more than 100 women feature on the app but the the SPARK movement is hoping  that more people will contribute to the database. Anyone can do so, by sending in 150-300 word biographies about women who have inspired them. She could be someone from your hometown or from ancient history. 

The app’s target audience are girls between the ages 13 and 22 and is offered worldwide. Some girls in this age group helped research the women they wanted people to learn about, which included the stories of 119 women from 28 countries, with more than 60% being women of colour, Executive Director of SPARK Dana Edell told The Huffington Post. 

A SPARK team member, Ajaita Saini explained to The Huffington Post, "The purpose of Women on the Map is to show the world that there were (and are) so many women whose accomplishments have been seemingly invisible to us. We need girls to know that they can be whatever they want, and their contributions are as equal, as if a guy did it instead. Likewise, we need guys to know that not everything done in the past was the work of men."

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