Technologies and Innovations

Ordered Alphabetically by Organization

1. Organization: AFRIpads Ltd.
Countries: Uganda
Solution: Menstrual Kits
Every month, millions of girls in developing countries skip school simply because they cannot afford to buy sanitary products when they menstruate. These unnecessary absences have enormous consequences on girls' education and academic potential. AFRIpads, a Ugandan social enterprise, is working to reduce the high rates of menstrual-related absenteeism among schoolgirls in rural Africa through a simple solution: low-cost, reusable sanitary pads. The AFRIpads Menstrual Kit contains washable cloth sanitary towels that provide menstrual protection for up to one year at one-fifth the cost of mainstream brands. The impact of these pads extends beyond school-aged girls because they are made by local Ugandan women, putting much-needed income into their hands and driving economic growth in rural areas. In just two years, the company has sold thousands of kits, helping to keep countless girls in school and employing dozens more. In Uganda, change is being generated from an unlikely source: a sanitary napkin.

2. Organization: AkiraChix Association
Country: Kenya
Solution: Teaching Young Women in Poor Urban Communities IT Skills
Although women make up half of the workforce in Africa, only 15% of workers in the technology field across the continent are women. The AkiraChix training program seeks to close this gap by teaching information technology (IT) skills to young women in Kenya’s poor urban communities and making them better qualified for technology jobs. AkiraChix provides women with networking, mentoring, and training services, such as the ‘Tech Divas Meet-Ups,’ which bring together girls and women to discuss new ideas and find potential partnership opportunities. The first group of students graduated in August 2011, and more than half have found full-time positions in the technology sector. Given the growing role of technology in Africa’s economic development, AkiraChix is paving the way for women to make significant contributions.  

3. Organization: American Academy of Pediatrics, WHO, USAID, Saving Newborn Lives, the National Institute of Child Health and Development, and others
Countries: Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
Solution: Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) Initiative
The Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) Initiative teaches newborn resuscitation techniques in resource-limited areas across 36 countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1 million babies die each year from birth asphyxia, the inability to breathe immediately after delivery. When a newborn baby is not breathing, a few simple techniques performed within the first “golden minute” after birth–such as drying the baby, keeping the baby warm, and suctioning the baby’s mouth–may be enough to save a life. Today, thanks to the initiative’s programmatic work and advocacy efforts, these programs are growing. The government of Bangladesh is leading a national scale-up plan to train all skilled birth attendants in newborn resuscitation. Ultimately, HBB aims to have at least one person knowledgeable about neonatal resuscitation at every birth. 

4. Organization: Family Health International, USAID
Countries: Kenya and Tanzania
Solution: Mobile for Reproductive Health (m4RH)
Through 160 character text messages, Mobile for Reproductive Health (m4RH) informs women about family planning methods and helps them find local family planning clinics in their communities. Leveraging the portability and privacy of mobile phones, m4RH has revolutionized the way men and women learn about their contraceptive options–including implants, intrauterine devices, injectables, oral contraceptive pills, condoms, and emergency contraception. To date, m4RH has reached more than 13,000 users in Kenya and Tanzania. By providing people with the family planning knowledge they need, m4RH is helping women make the best decisions for themselves and for their families.

5. Organization: GAVI Alliance
Country: Global
Solution: Prioritizing HPV Vaccines
The GAVI Alliance recognized the burden that cervical cancers have on women around the world and supported the introduction of HPV vaccines to developing countries, where nearly 85% of cervical cancer deaths occur.  The vaccine protects against the two strains of HPV viruses responsible for 70% of cervical cancer and is critical in environments where there is low access to quality diagnostic and treatment services. The GAVI Alliance is working with one pharmaceutical to reduce the cost of the HPV vaccine by 67%.  By doing so, they will be able to secure affordable vaccines for developing nations and save the lives of girls and women.  If their success continues, by 2020, more than 28 million girls can be protected from cervical cancer. 

6. Organization: Jhpiego
Country: Afghanistan, Nepal, South Sudan
Solution: Bringing Lifesaving Care to Women Where They Live
For some women living in remote areas of the world, delivering in a health facility with a skilled provider is not an option. Women who give birth at home are at a higher risk of dying from complications, such as postpartum hemorrhaging. To reach women who are not part of the traditional healthcare system, Jhpiego trains community health workers to dispense misoprostol, a low-cost, safe, and highly effective pill that prevents postpartum hemorrhaging. The program also educates women on how to use it without a skilled birth attendant. So far, community health workers have provided education and misoprostol to more than 24,000 women in Afghanistan and Nepal, and Jhpiego is in the process of scaling up educational efforts in 12 other countries. Through the distribution of this simple pill, Jhpiego is helping to prevent one of the leading causes of maternal death worldwide.

7. Organization: Maternova
Country: Global
Solution: Obstetric Kits
Maternova designed their Obstetric Kits because of a recognized need for safer pregnancy for women all over the world.  In many areas of the world, pregnancy remains a leading cause of death among women of childbearing age.  Maternova sought to develop an effective and inexpensive method to saving women’s and children’s lives where it is needed most and to create an effective method of distribution. These Obstetric Kits are currently in use in Haiti and are being tested by Ministries of Health in Zambia and Pakistan. Each kit contains a winding mobile phone charger to call for help, solar-powered lights, and several other tools to help midwives and other frontline health workers take part in safer and healthier deliveries. These kits demonstrate that even when faced with the problem of shortages of healthcare workers or other resources, giving birth does not have to be a death sentence.

8. Organization: PATH
Countries: Currently China and sub-Saharan Africa, eventually all
Solution: Woman’s Condom
PATH and its research partners have developed an innovative, easy-to-use, and more comfortable female condom, known as the Woman’s Condom. The Woman’s Condom is designed to promote greater control for women in their sexual decision making and help prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Millions of women have an unmet need for family planning and women are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS—making the need for new dual protection options like the Woman’s Condom even more urgent. The Woman’s Condom was designed for women, by women. Researchers incorporated feedback from couples in Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States in each step of the design process. PATH licensed the Woman’s Condom to Dahua Medical Apparatus Company of Shanghai, China, to manufacture and distribute the product. The Woman’s Condom is approved for distribution in China and Europe, and additional regulatory applications are in process. Market development in China and sub-Saharan Africa is also underway, which will pave the way for broader introduction in these regions so the Woman’s Condom can deliver on its promise to improve reproductive health.  

9. Organization: Solar Sister
Countries: Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan among other Sub-Saharan Africa countries
Solution: Providing Women with the Tools to Bring Clean Energy Technology
Solar Sister provides women with the tools to bring clean energy technology, such as solar powered lamps, to their communities. Girls and women make up 70% of the 1.6 billion people worldwide without access to electricity. Using principles of social entrepreneurship, women are provided with training and support to create a solar micro-business, allowing for income generation and removing darkness in communities. The Solar Sister program has led to a 30% reduction in household expenses for people who switch from kerosene and has improved the quality of light by providing 3 more hours of light than kerosene, which improves safety conditions for women and enables children to study more. This program demonstrates how shedding a little light on a problem can go a long way for women, children, and their communities. 

10. Organization: Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE)
Country: Rwanda
Solution: Eco-Friendly Sanitary Pads
SHE has taken a problem that addresses a vulnerable population–young girls in developing countries–and resolved it with a market-based approach that avoids dependency on donations, is sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Preliminary research has shown that girls and woman around the world lack access to affordable, eco-friendly menstrual pads, which leads to losses in education, productivity, health, and dignity. The SHE model kicked off in East Africa, specifically Rwanda, where 36% of girls who miss school do so because of unaffordable menstrual pads. This initiative – check out their YouTube video - plans to help women jump start their own businesses to manufacture and distribute pads using local raw materials. The organization's East African Chief of Operations, Julian Kayibanda, has spread-headed partnerships with local women’s groups to provide microlending and education in business, health, and hygiene. SHE is building on groundbreaking work done by Goldman Sachs and the Council on Foreign Relations to deliver solutions to young girls and women, by introducing new and innovative ways to make quality education and business development a reality for girls and women.



Organization: Vestergaard-Frandsen
Country: Kenya
Solution: LifeStraw®, Carbon For Water™
Launched in 2011, the Carbon For Water™ program provided almost 900,000 households in the Western Province of Kenya with a LifeStraw® Family water filter. The filter, which delivers at least 18,000 liters of U.S. EPA-quality drinking water, will supply a family of five with safe drinking water for at least three years. While the program targets the whole community, it is expected to have the most positive impact on women and girl children, who are often responsible for providing safe drinking water for their families.   

Organization: ColaLife
Country: Zambia
Solution: AidPod
ColaLife is an independent non-profit organization that is working to open Coca-Cola’s distribution channels to deliver health products. At the heart of this model is the AidPod, a compact “mother’s kit” containing essential health products that fits between the necks of crated Coca-Cola bottles. By taking advantage of the extra space left in the crates, without adding significant weight to the load, Aidpods can be distributed alongside Coca-Cola products to hard-to-reach communities. 

Organization: Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania
Country: Tanzania
Solution: M-PESA
In 2009, Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) started using Vodaphone’s mobile banking system, M-PESA, to help fistula patients pay for transportation to hospitals. CCBRT sends money through SMS to fistula volunteer ambassadors who retrieve the money from a local Vodafone M-PESA agent and buy bus fare for the patients who need treatment. Between January and December 2010, fifty-four ambassadors referred 129 women for fistula repair via M-PESA, with almost half of the cases treated at CCBRT.

Organization: Women’s Networking Hub, The Young Foundation
Country: UK
Solution: Digital Activism Programme
Women’s Networking Hub is working with the Young Foundation to develop campaigns and use digital tools to increase women’s voice and influence locally and nationally. Through the use of its web site, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, emails, and SMS texts, Women’s Networking Hub looks to mobilize a critical mass of women to speak out, effect change, and share information about campaigns. Recently, it used flip cameras to capture film footage and take photos to share with members.

Organization: International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM)
Country: Developing countries
Solution: IPM Microbicides Ring
In partnership with the NIH-funded Microbicide Trials Network, IPM will begin a licensure program this spring to determine if an ARV-containing vaginal ring can provide women with monthly protection against HIV. Vaginal rings, a popular method for delivering contraceptives, are long-acting, discreet, and easy to use. IPM adapted this technology for the fight against HIV to address a critical gap in current prevention strategies: the lack of tools women can use to prevent HIV infection. Should it be successful, the ring would empower women with the tools they need to protect their health.

Organization: Norad, mHealth Alliance, UN
Countries: South Africa, Nigeria, India, Zanzibar, Ghana, Pakistan, Rwanda, DRC
Solution: Catalytic Grant Mechanism for MNCH and mHealth
The Innovation Working Group, part of the UN Secretary General’s Every Woman, Every Child initiative, created a competitive and catalytic grant mechanism with a special focus on growing programs with sustainable financing models and early indications of impact. The projects supported through this grant mechanism harness the reach and popularity of mobile phones to help women, their families, and their health care providers in low-income settings combat inequitable access to quality health services. Funding is awarded through annual competitions managed by the mHealth Alliance and will allow winners to take mHealth pilot programs to scale.

Organization: University of California, San Francisco (UCSF): Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health
Country: Global
Solution: LifeWrap Compression Device for PPH
The LifeWrap is a first-aid device used to stabilize women who are suffering from shock and obstetric hemorrhage, the largest cause of maternal deaths around the world. Created by the Safe Motherhood Program at UCSF, it is made from neoprene and Velcro, the same materials used in wet suits. This simple device controls bleeding until the woman can be transported to a referral hospital for emergency care and helps women survive delays in getting the treatment that they need.

Organization: Jacaranda Health
Country: Kenya
Solution: Mobile Vans and Clinics
Jacaranda Health is helping low-income women in Nairobi receive the full continuum of maternal health care. Their “patient-centered approach” to maternal care relies on two tightly-integrated services. First, mobile vans are used to create a direct link with pregnant women and boost demand for services. Second, Jacaranda Clinics have been built, based on patient feedback, near slums to allow women to access respectful obstetric care, safe delivery, family planning, and postnatal care.

Organization: Gloag Foundation, USAID, UNFPA, and Airtel
Country: Sierra Leone
Solution: Fistula Hotline
Established in October 2011, the Fistula Hotline is a public-private partnership that works to change how women are identified and referred for fistula treatment in Sierra Leone. Calling toll-free, women are able to talk to specialized nurses about their symptoms and find out if they are eligible for treatment. In the first month of the service, more than 8,000 calls were made to the Aberdeen Women’s Centre, about 165 patients were referred, and so far, 119 patients have been repaired.

Organization: Jhpiego
Countries: Implemented in 17 countries
Solution: The Single Visit Approach (SVA) to Cervical Cancer Prevention
The Single Visit Approach (SVA), pioneered by Jhpiego, is a unique, medically safe, acceptable, and effective approach to cervical cancer prevention in low-resource settings where Pap tests are often not an option. SVA consists of a visual inspection of the cervix minutes after applying household vinegar or dilute acetic acid to detect precancerous lesions, followed by the offer of treatment using a freezing technique (cryotherapy) in the same visit. Over 50 women can be screened using SVA for the cost of one traditional Pap smear. This single visit approach ensures women can be screened and tested, no matter where they live.

Organization: Ibis Reproductive Health
Country: Global
Solution: Overcoming Barriers to Abortion Access through Telemedicine
Annually, unsafe abortion claims the lives of 47,000 women. In 2008, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland began offering medical abortion with mifepristone and misoprostol using telemedicine at outlying clinics without a doctor on site. Ibis Reproductive Health followed 450 women in the project to assess effectiveness and acceptability and found that the telemedicine service was successful in terminating pregnancies.  They also found that telemedicine clients were more likely to say they would recommend the service to a friend compared to clients who met with the doctor in person. This important research project proved that telemedicine is opening new options for improving access to abortion for women.

Organization: Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT)
Countries:  Lebanon, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia
Solution: ReachUp! Program    
Digital Opportunity Trust's (DOT) ReachUp!, through its peer-to-peer learning model, trains local interns to deliver entrepreneurship and ICT (information communications technology) curricula to individuals and small business owners in their own communities. The ReachUp! program provides participants with tools and capabilities to help them advance their economic status through building successful, sustainable livelihoods.  Since its launch in 2002, DOT has mobilized more than 3,000 young interns who have coached more than 600,000 people in communities and schools around the world.

Organization: Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition and UNFPA
Country:  Global
Solution: AccessRH
AccessRH is a reproductive health initiative that aims to improve access to sexual and reproductive health commodities, as well as reduce delivery times for low- and middle-income country government and NGO partners. Through its Internet portal, AccessRH shares information about contraceptive provisions and enables clients to order multiple products offered by a variety of manufacturers at affordable prices. AccessRH is ensuring Reproductive Health Commodity Security (RHCS) by making quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health resources more accessible.

Organization: GE
Countries: U.S., Saudi Arabia, China
Solution: Healthymagination
Healthymagination is a $6 billion initiative launched by GE in 2009 to enable better health in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and China. Half of that funding is directed towards healthcare innovations that will help deliver better care to more people at a lower cost, like the pocket-sized, GE Vscan machine that puts ultrasound technology in the palm of a doctor’s or clinician’s hand. The company has committed new funds and technology services that will make better care for girls and women possible in more places around the world.

Organization: Voxiva; Johnson & Johnson; National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition; Grey Healthcare Group; CTIA
Country: U.S.
Text4Baby is a free mobile health service that delivers timely updates throughout pregnancy and after birth to deliver critical information to new mothers. Each message is timed to the mother’s due date and supports moms by providing accurate information that is both personal and timely. It is the largest mobile health service in the U.S., with thousands of public and private partners supporting the campaign.

Return to the full list of Women Deliver 50 winners.