Red Dot Foundation (Safecity) was approved to host a UN Habitat’s Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) as well as a gender stakeholder meet post the Stockholm Gender Forum by the Swedish Institute in Mumbai. Along with its organising partners, Developmatrix and The Urban Vision and knowledge partner, the US Consulate Mumbai, it has designed the following social incubator for the Youth Design Innovation Challenge.

The Youth Design Innovation Challenge is a derivative of the UTC seeking to involve future leaders of the city – the youth to play a part in solving gender equality issues due to rapid urbanization. Through the Challenge, we aim to raise awareness about gender equality (SDG 5) and its intersection with sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) through sustainable and safe transportation, environment and biodiversity, urban planning and governance and look for hyper-local community based solutions that are innovative and practical.

Cities have been envisioned as spaces of liberation, of collaboration and ideas. Urban thinker, Edward Glaeser states that the city “makes humanity shine most brightly”.[ii] Sadly, however, this glowing view of the city does not apply to all, and not equally. For many women, cities are rather spaces of fear, which they access while having to constantly look over their shoulders. The United Nation’s ‘Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces’ programme, which started in 2010, recognized that cities all around the world were becoming unsafe for women. NCRB reports show that every 51 minutes, one woman is sexually harassed. Most of these crimes take place on streets and public transportation, making women use these systems lesser than men. Safety is one of the issues that hold women back and limits their mobility and thereby their opportunities.  They are also disproportionately affected by environmental challenges even in the urban context and are often left out of the planning process. Yet we need more women in the workplace as their contribution is beneficial to the economy and according to the latest McKinsey study is slated to add $700 billion to the GDP of India if we achieve gender equality by 2025. Having more women access education is also beneficial to the overall health of people. A study by UN using data from 219 countries from 1970 to 2009 found that, for every one additional year of education for women of reproductive age, child mortality decreased by 9.5 per cent. It is the responsibility of every individual along with the administration to make cities more women friendly and safe.

The Youth Design Innovation Challenge is a platform for youth to advocate enlightened planning and design of our cities and propose urban solutions in addressing women safety in all areas including transportation, workplace safety, domestic settings and overall safety in general.

The Youth Innovation Design Challenge is envisaged as a four stage process with the kick off on 22 June, 2018 (the second day of the UTC event) and continued until 13 December 2018; during which we will work with 8-10 teams of youth to refine their ideas on Women Friendly Cities. The four stages are as follows:


  1. Undergraduates from colleges in Mumbai Region
  2. Age group: 18-22
  3. Colleges include: Engineering, Design, Environment, Architecture, Social, Journalism and Management (UG)

Application process:

The participating colleges will be invited to form teams of minimum two people and maximum four people, one of whom must be a female. The participating teams to attend the kick-off of the Youth Design Innovation Challenge on 22nd June. Each college also should nominate at least 1 faculty mentor who would accompany the teams to the event as well as help/guide the selected team further on during the entire challenge.

  • Kick-off Event details: Date – 22nd June. Venue: ISDI
  • Event participation with about 100 high school & college students with faculty/teaching support.

Participating team selection:

  • Teams should be diverse with a mix of disciplines and at least one person who is a female.
  • At the end of the event, the College students then will be invited to submit their idea proposal in the form of a concept note by 15 July. It could be in the form of a note, video, drawing or any other multimedia.
  • The concept note should identify an issue related to any of the key themes (Gender Equality, Mobility, Environment and Governance) and should be on a unique solution resolves a local problem being faced in a locality of the  Metropolitan area of Mumbai. It should be workable and able to be tested within 5 kms radius of their location.
  • By 28 July, 10 teams will be announced who will proceed through the competition.

During the Kickoff session on 22 June:

  • The participants will attend 3 design thinking sessions on – Defining the problem, Knowing your audience/user and building a prototype of your solution.
  • They will be introduced to 9 innovative ideas working currently on different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • This will be an opportunity to learn new skills to flesh out ideas and refine them.

Idea submission – by 15 July:

  • All participating teams to submit their ideas by 15 July as well as identify their team composition.

8-10 best ideas will be selected by 28 July for mentoring.

1 Aug to 13 Dec:

  • One experiential session in Karjat – tentatively 4 and 5 Aug. This is an overnight session.
  • One experiential session in Mumbai – tentatively 8 Sep. This is a day session.

During the experiential sessions, we will provide the participants insights into various innovative ideas being practiced in the city as well as learning from nature. Skills such as community mobilising and organising, pitching an idea and presentation skills will also be provided to the participants.


  • Every effort will be made to match the students with the right set of mentors – either individuals or organisations.
  • Aug – Nov – The mentors will be available for meetings in person or over phone/skype/email at mutually convenient times to help the teams refine their ideas.
  • The mentors have been selected for their expertise and have provided their time pro-bono to this social incubator.

Final Pitch session – 13 Dec:

  • A working prototype of the idea will be presented mid Dec to a jury panel at the US Consulate Mumbai from 2 -6 pm.
  • The final top 3 ideas will be presented with cash prizes – 1st Prize of Rs 15000, 2nd Prize of Rs 10000 and 3rd Prize of Rs 5000.
  • All participants will be given a certificate.
  • All ideas and solutions will be documented in a white paper to be published on the UN Habitat website.


Our Founder, Elsa D’Silva, had a conversation with two of our jury members – Harini Calamur and Francis Joseph live on Twitter, talking about the importance of encouraging innovations and involving the youth to bring about a change in society. You can watch their conversation here-


Update – 1 July 2018

We received close to a 100 entries for the Youth Innovation Challenge.

Congratulations to our finalists who will be mentored over the next few months!
A big THANK YOU to our jury members-
  1. Aafreen Siddiqui – UNDP India, Mumbai
  2. Mabel Abraham – Head, CSR L&T
  3. Girish Nair – Founder. Travel Spends
  4. Aamer Khan – U.S. Consulate General, Mumbai
  5. Aditi Nargundkar Pathak- Director, The Urban Vision ( Architect and Urban Designer)
  6. Arjun Rathi- Architect
  7. Admiral  I C Rao- Apli Mumbai
  8. Rufina Fernandes – Head of Communications, GTL
  9. Harish Iyer – Activist
  10. Radha Sule – Head CSR, Tata Capital
  11. Shweta Tripathi – Global Head, Knowledge at Enzen
  12. Francis Joseph – Founder, School Leader Network
  13. Harini Calamur- Writer, Filmmaker & Entrepreneur


Here are our mentors for the Youth Innovation Challenge:-

  1. Ruben Mascarenhas
  2. Priyanka Chaturvedi
  3. Deepak Lokhande
  4. Shishir Joshi
  5. Dr. Dhwaipayan Aich
  6. Brijesh Singh
  7. Biplab Paul
  8. Sabhir Saayed
  9. Madhavi Misra
  10. Ayush
  11. Shweta Tripathi
  12. Nidhi Batra
  13. Rtn Sandeep Ohri
  14. Prashant Choksey
  15. Dr. Sanjay Joshi
  16. Ravi Mariwala
  17. Ms. Esther Fernandes


Update- 6th August 2018

Our top 12 finalists attended their first experiential session on 4-5th August at the Magic Bus Centre, Karjat. Here, they learned how to present their idea with the help of a Business Model Canvas and learned more about themselves and their teams through the activities. You can read more about it here.

Here‘s a glimpse at some of the pictures.

Each of the teams tell us about their innovation and their experience at the first session.

  1. Shakti Political Action Committee
  2. ORGFeed
  3. Mehfooz
  4. Safety Cups
  5. Makaan Khoj
  6. VaW Waste Management
  7. Robot Scavenger
  8. Platform for Disaster Management
  9. Zesters
  10. Mpower Forever
  11. Rangleela
  12. Buntaiz

Involving Youth in Civic Engagement– The ideas range from improving and addressing women’s safety through curricula and mobile apps to disaster management to waste and sanitation management to increasing political participation of women. The ideas are extremely exciting and the teams are passionate about them.


Update- 8th September 2018

The finalists of the Youth Innovation Challenge had their second session at Godrej- The Trees in Vikhroli, Mumbai on 8th September. Read more about it here.

Here‘s a glimpse at some of the pictures.

Youth Innovation Challenge- Ideas and Experiences: Three teams who are finalists at our Youth Innovation Challenge present their innovation and share how the first experiential session has helped shape their ideas.

Youth Working on Solving Women’s Issues– 3 teams that are working on gendered issues ie. women’s safety, gender equality through education and housing for single women in big cities share their practical solutions and innovations and how the sessions have been helpful.


Update- 13th Dec 2018

On 13th December 2018, the final pitch of the Youth Innovation Challenge was hosted at Dosti House, U.S. Consulate General Mumbai. You can read more about it here.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the pictures.

Youth Innovation Challenge Finals– It was amazing to see the wealth of ideas that came from the youth of Mumbai. Youth are not just the future of the country but also the present. They passionately care about creating a country that is equitable, sustainable, clean, resilient and inclusive.


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