When was the last time you used your mobile phone to look up an address, stream a video clip, or play a game? Now think about the last time you used your mobile phone to support human rights, raise awareness for a cause, or contribute to sustainable development. What would the world look like if we spent as much time using our cell phones to contribute to development as we do watching YouTube or sending email? What new tools could be developed -- or new uses for existing technology found -- to solve some of the world's most pressing development challenges?
Our new Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance -- launching later this summer -- will devote expertise and resources to tackle these very questions, paying particular attention to marrying innovation and the challenge of protecting against and preventing human rights abuse.
With USAID Forward, an ambitious and transformative reform agenda that changes the way the Agency does business, USAID is leveraging the capabilities of our partners and challenging development professionals, countries, and communities to create new relationships that leverage technology and development to deliver real results. "Stop Human Trafficking App Challenge" is just one of the ways USAID is fostering creativity in technology and development.
In partnership with the Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA) and NetHope Inc. (a consortium of international humanitarian organizations and major technology companies), USAID announced the Stop Human Trafficking App Challenge in Russia on June 14, 2011. The aim of the challenge is to develop the most effective mobile technology application to combat trafficking in persons in Russia. Russia is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. A 2008 benchmark survey supported by the Ford Foundation suggests that 8 out of 10 young Russian women think that human trafficking is a very serious issue, and that tens of thousands of Russian women who were trafficked at one point in their lives are living today in Russia. It is time we all did more to address their needs. The contest aims to raise awareness of sex and labor trafficking and help civil society organizations mobilize to provide services to survivors.
Contestants from Russia and across the region, including diaspora communities, have until August 8, 2011, to submit entries. The technology application that wins the Grand Prize will be implemented in Russia through a pilot project with a domestic anti-trafficking organization. The Grand Prize winner will also receive $15,000 and travel expenses to the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York. The First Prize winner will receive $10,000 and travel expenses to CGI.
Stakeholders from Russia and the wider region -- including Russian anti-trafficking organizations, international nongovernmental organizations, technology companies, and the public -- will have the opportunity to judge the submissions based on their usefulness in preventing trafficking, raising awareness, providing services to survivors, innovation, ease of use, and potential for large-scale application.
Check out USAID's IMPACT blog this week for more stories about USAID TIP programs around in the world in support of the Department of State's eleventh annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report release.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears on the USAID Impact Blog.