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Cambodian Girls compete in a Mobile App Competition, Pushes Boundaries for Women in Technology

Cambodian girl coders achieve recognition at a Global Competition

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The five Cambodian girls of the app team Cambodia Identity Product, right, stand next to other coders from India and Hong Kong, at Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit competition at Google headquarters
The five Cambodian girls of the app team Cambodia Identity Product, right, stand next to other coders from India and Hong Kong, at Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit competition at Google headquarters. VOA
  • We want to increase employment for Cambodians
  • In Cambodia, just 14 percent of students in information technology were women

A group of Cambodian girls who recently traveled to California to compete in a mobile app competition offered inspiration for other girls worldwide to consider careers in technology.

Their pitch in Silicon Valley wasn’t a bid to be the next billion-dollar company. Instead, they want to help their country with a mobile phone application to address poverty.

“Let’s fight poverty by using our app. Don’t find customers for your product, find products for your customers,” said Lorn Dara Soucheng, 12, who led the team that created the app, Cambodian Identity Product.

“We want to increase employment for Cambodians, so there will be a reduction of Cambodian migrants to work in other countries, reducing poverty through making income and providing charity to local Cambodians,” Chea Sopheata, 11, told the judges at Google’s headquarters. Google was one of the program’s sponsors.

To participate in the Aug. 7-11 Technovation global competition, girls around the world had to build a mobile app — and a business plan — that addressed a U.N. development goal. The Cambodian girls picked poverty.

While globalization has boosted the economic growth of Cambodia, especially its tourism industry, it has also created greater economic inequality and competition. The girls think their app can help.

“We want to promote our culture to people from all over the world,” said Lorn Dara Soucheng.

At their young age, no one expects these girls to be able to solve their country’s most pressing issues quite yet. But their presence here highlighted another issue: girls in tech fields.

In the U.S. and worldwide, the number of women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) remains low and has even dropped.

In Cambodia, just 14 percent of students in information technology were women as of 2010. It’s a situation some attribute to a lack of equal access to education and a lack of female role models.

It’s hoped that programs like Technovation can reverse that trend.

“For the first time in history, technology can really help girls have a strong voice and help us have a society that has equality,” said Tara Chklovski, founder, and CEO of Iridescent, the nonprofit organization behind Technovation.

These young Cambodian girls have proved how far they can go with technology. Most come from underprivileged backgrounds but had support from teachers, mentors, and family.

Cambodian American Pauline Seng, a program manager at Google, said the young coders have become role models for many other Cambodians, including herself. She didn’t get into technology until she was 23.

“There’s going to be so many people who aspire to reach this stage and also inspire other people to get involved in technology,” she said.

Although the Cambodian girls did not win the grand prize, which went to a team from Hong Kong, they were proud to have made it to Google and Silicon Valley.

After watching the male CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, speaking at the closing ceremony, the girls said they believed the tech giant would one day have a female leader.

“Yes!” they said, in unison.

Whether that will come true or not, they have themselves already become the youngest role models to inspire others, one girl at a time. (VOA)

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Microsoft to Implement California’s Digital Privacy Law Throughout the US

The European Union last year rolled out new privacy regulations for its citizens called the GDPR, but the US doesn't have a similar law

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FILE - A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

Microsoft has announced to implement California’s digital privacy law, that comes into effect from January 1, 2020, throughout the US.

In a blog post, the tech giant said the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) marks an important step towards providing people with more robust control over their data in the US.

“It also shows that we can make progress to strengthen privacy protections in this country at the state level even when Congress can’t or won’t act,” Julie Brill, Microsoft’s chief privacy officer, said on Monday.

The CCPA allows people to request that data be deleted and gives them the opportunity to opt out of having their information sold to a third party.

In 2018, Microsoft voluntarily extended the core data privacy rights included in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to customers around the world, not just to those in the EU who are covered by the regulation.

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FILE – Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

“Similarly, we will extend CCPA’s core rights for people to control their data to all our customers in the US,” it said.

More than 25 million people around the world, including over 10 million people in the US, have used Microsoft’s privacy dashboard to understand and control their personal data.

Also Read: Apple Mulling to Release its First AR Headset by the Year 2022

Under CCPA, companies must be transparent about data collection and use, and provide people with the option to prevent their personal information from being sold.

“Microsoft will continue to monitor those changes, and make the adjustments needed to provide effective transparency and control under CCPA to all people in the US,” Brill said.

The European Union last year rolled out new privacy regulations for its citizens called the GDPR, but the US doesn’t have a similar law. (IANS)