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First of Their Kind

created by

Lucille Crelli

Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications

The winds of social change have been trending towards the quick, innovative fix nowadays. This oftentimes takes the form of a new technology that is developed in the West and applied elsewhere and may or may not involve the Internet. These types of solutions are incredibly valuable, but sometimes innovation takes another form. In fact, oftentimes being the first of something means that a period of discontent and disruption must come first. Sometimes, being the first just means leveling the playing field or righting some wrongs. Being the first of a kind may not always be glamorous, but it does tend to be life-changing.

The stories in this collection study the phenomenon of being original through the lenses of gender equity, and they take place in two seemingly disparate places in the world: India and Chicago. Yes, one is a country and one is a city, but both offer insight into how two opposite environments approach empowering women through innovation. The first story takes place in Jaipur, India and focuses on how the first all-female police unit has transformed women’s sense of autonomy to report crimes and feel as if their safety is being taken seriously. The next story shifts to Chicago, Illinois where the first female refugee and immigrant sewing/clothing production line is offering women the chance to use the talents from their previous lives to make a new living. Back in Gujarat, India, the first female-run train station blows all the other stations out of the water with their efficiency, cleanliness, safety, and economic value. Lastly, in Chicago again, a woman-centered mosque is the first of its kind to make their services accessible to all genders, sexualities, abilities, classes, etc., and as such cultivates a spiritual community amongst those who may have been previously excluded. 

The success in India can be attributed to women actively eliminating barriers and establishing new social norms, and the success in Chicago hands control back to those being served and focuses on their assets rather than treating them as victims. Innovation takes many forms in many different places but all shares the unique ability to inspire hope in people to envision new futures for themselves.

Stories In This Collection (4)

Fighting sexism, India's police ask: When is 'women only' good for women?

Fighting sexism, India's police ask: When is 'w...
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First of its kind refugee-owned sewing group launches in Chicago

First of its kind refugee-owned sewing group la...
view story

Full steam ahead: India's first women-run train station blazes a trail

Full steam ahead: India's first women-run train...
view story

In Chicago, one mosque charts its own path

In Chicago, one mosque charts its own path
view story
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Your information will be used to better support and enable your membership. We care about your privacy and, in accordance with GDPR regulations, request your consent before giving you access to the membership services described above. You will also receive customized communications tailored to your interests as described by your selections. We will never sell your information to 3rd parties. You can cancel your membership and change your communications preferences at any time, though this may prevent you from participating in the opportunities provided by this program. View our full privacy policy here. By clicking submit, you accept these terms.

Our issue area taxonomy was adapted from the PCS Taxonomy with definitions by the Foundation Center, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 4.0 International License.

Photos are licensed under Attribution Non Commercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license / Desaturated from original, and are credited to the following photographers:

Fondriest Environmental, David De Wit / Community Eye Health, Linda Steil / Herald Post, John Amis / UGA College of Ag & Environmental Sciences – OCCS, Andy B, Peter Garnhum, Thomas Hawk, 7ty9, Isriya Paireepairit, David Berger, UnLtd The Foundation For Social Entrepreneurs, Michael Dunne, Burak Kebapci, and Forrest Berkshire / U.S. Army Cadet Command public affairs

Photos are licensed under Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license, and are credited to the following photographers:

Ra'ed Qutena, 段 文慶, Fabio Campo, City Clock Magazine, Justin Norman, scarlatti2004, Gary Simmons, Kathryn McCallum, and Nearsoft Inc

Photos are licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication Creative Commons license / Desaturated from original, and are credited to the following photographers:

Burak Kebapci and SCY.

Photos are licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) and are credited to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Conference attendee listening to speaker, Jenifer Daniels / Colorstock getcolorstock.com.

Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian via Getty Images

Photo Credit: Sonia Narang

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