Women's safety -- particularly after the release of lewd comments made by Donald Trump -- is now on the forefront of people's minds.
But the issue has long been one of utmost importance for Zenia Tata, XPRIZE's executive director of international expansion and global development. She's on a mission to ensure women's safety, which she believes provides a foundation for economic prosperity.
This explains why XPRIZE, the non-profit foundation that sponsors competitions fostering innovation, plans to launch the Women's Safety Prize at the end of the month.
The goal of the competition is to develop a device that a woman can wear hidden or implanted, that generates the fastest response time to aid a woman in distress. The requirements for the device will be released at the time the prize competition is formally announced and accepting applications.
Anyone in the world can apply to be a part of the initial competition and the prize amount is set at $1 million.
Tata's focus will initially be on women in India, where in some parts of the country 9 out of 10 women report some form of sexual assault, according to the International Center for Research on Women. "When the government fails to keep their people safe isn't it up to entrepreneurs to create safety for their society?" Tata asks.
Tata's presence is everything. She is passionate, strong and her fervor and dedication permeates every sentence that comes out of her mouth.
She tells me,
"Women are the litmus test for safety. When women are safe... children are safe, men are safe, businesses are safe. There is a direct correlation with safety and prosperity. Societies can live more empowered lives. When you have safety, you have mobility. Mobility is linked to education, democracy, prosperity and empowerment. Women's safety is much bigger than just safety for one gender."
According to the rules of the competition, the device needs to work where there is no cell phone reception or wifi available. Tata tells me, "the devices created by the semi-finalists, can change the world, creating efficiencies in private and public sectors in various markets outside of safety, such as hospitals and universal access groups."
The beta test for the competing devices will be held in India. According to the World Health Organization, acts of gendered violence cost the economy 3% in lost GDP and domestic violence costs the world 11% of the global GDP. A report by McKinsey Global Institute finds that $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 just by creating safe, more equal workspaces and advancing women's equality.
The Women's Safety XPRIZE is set to launch the week of Oct. 24.
It's fascinating to consider how addressing root issues, such as women's safety, can also address economic opportunity and prosperity. If we all considered root issues of our companies and lives, we'd be living in a significantly more elevated world.