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These Innovators' Invention Aims To Save 1.5 Million Kids Through Proper Hand Washing

People

Shubham Issar and Amanat Anand co-founders of SoaPen met during their college years. Now they are both invested in their passion of bringing awareness and teaching kids proper hand washing. Their idea was to create a product that will make it fun for kids to wash their hands while learning about the risk of germs.


While going through the concept of creating SoaPen it introduced them to shocking statistics.

“In developing nations, over 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die due to infectious illnesses that can be prevented by the simple act of washing hands with soap. A lack of awareness and lack of access to soap are some of the barriers that prevent kids from washing hands." Schools are where majority of the diseases are transmitted among children.

While they are now launching a successful business, Issar and Anand faced challenges along the way. They said research and development and finding the right business partners were difficult.

“Recently our focus has shifted to getting the word out of our launch through various marketing channels which has been a challenge due to our small startup budget. We're facing all challenges head on creatively!"

SoaPen changes the way kids wash their hands, making it easily accessible with the placement of soap from the restroom to the classroom. The product consists of a portable alternative to sanitizers. Moms and kids on the go can carry it in their bags and never miss a hand wash.

Photo courtesy of SoaPen.com

The co-founders thought creatively of a new way to incentivize kids to enjoy the hand washing process by allowing them to draw with their product on their hands. Then under water, kids would need to really rub their hands to remove all traces of the drawing- washing their hands for the right amount of time which is 20 to 40 seconds. On the other hand, teachers and parents can now check if the kids actually washed their hands by looking for any left over traces of the drawing.

Their vision was for SoaPen to make a boring and simple task such as handwashing fun, simple and colorful! Issar and Anand emphasized “SoaPen is a great teaching tool for kids between 3 and 8 years of age and it encourages them to wash their hands.

The time they wash for is intuitive with SoaPen and parents don't have to sing the Happy Birthday song all the time to make sure kids wash their hands!" Their goal is to raise awareness around the benefits of hand washing and promote global access to soap.

In order to encourage hand washing habits all over the world, the company launched a social initiative where for every 3 SoaPens sold in the US, they will donate 1 SoaPen to a low income school. During Issar and Amanat's visit to schools in Mumbai, India they realized that even when soap was being donated to schools, teachers would store it away in their closets fearing over pumping of liquid soap or stealing.

“They would take it out once during the mid day meal and line up the students to put a coin sized amount on their hands which is a big hassle as the student teacher ratio in these classrooms would end up being 60 students to 1 teacher and kids would end up washing their hands once a day if at all."

SoaPen is available for sale on Amazon.com in a pack of 2 ($10.99) and pack of 4 ($18.99) and just launched their pack of 3 ($14.99)!

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.