A cosmic collaboration for gender equality: ESA supported the Our Giant Leap Hackathon 2023! 

By: Maëlys BELIAZI – Lead of the Communication Team of the Diversity and Gender Equality Project Group

Space technologies and know-how are powerful tools that, put in safe hands, can bring help and support to communities around the world in so many ways. 

End of last year, from October 28-29th 2023, the #OurGiantLeapHackathon2023 took place in Montréal Canada (hybrid mode). 

The Our Giant Leap Hackathon is an international competition encouraging young entrepreneurs & pioneers to tackle gender inequalities on Earth through space. The event was created by the Diversity and Gender Equality Project Group (DGE PG) #OurGiantLeap of the Space Generation Advisory Council in 2021.  

For its second edition, hackers had less than 48 hours to propose a solution to the following general theme: ‘How can space technology and know-how support and be utilized by women in remote communities?’.  

Official visual of the Our Giant Leap Hackathon 2023

Young ESA teams joining the competition

End of 2023, two young ESA teams were sponsored by the Agency to attend the event – one in-person and one online.   

Congratulations to Aurora Tuozzi Sanaa Rashid Calum Turner Emilie Brannan and Emma Buckinx for presenting their innovative solution in Montréal this year! 

Their proposal involved the creation of a platform that would provide telehealth services and reproductive health education to indigenous Canadian women living in remote communities. This platform would harness the power of 5G satellite connectivity and mobile ground stations to bridge the gap and connect these communities with indigenous healthcare providers, all while being co-developed in collaboration with regional healthcare systems. Their hard work and determination earned them a well-deserved place in the top 3 at the Our Giant Leap Hackathon 2023.   

Young ESA team enjoying the fall colours in Montreal (credits: Young ESA in-person team)

Congratulations to Blandine Gorce Julia Delarue, Rebecca Barth, Ana Victória Gruginski de Carvalho Ladeira Daniel Alexander Jørgensen for joining the international competition online with an original idea – limiting the spread of mosquito disease in remote areas through space! 

The participation of both teams in the Our Giant Leap Hackathon 2023 was a great moment, made possible thanks to the help and support from ESA’s Strategy Department (DG-5), ESA’s Diversity Office and HR, along with dedicated efforts from Aymeric Froissart (Young ESA DE&I community lead). 

Final pitch (credits: DGE PG)

I’m extremely grateful I had the opportunity to participate in this year’s OGL Hackathon. I had never participated in a similar event, and I was not sure what to expect. What I found was a wonderful community of people deeply invested in how space can make a change for the better and bridge the gap in gender equality. I learned so much about space applications and their potential and I was happy to challenge myself to think of new ways to bring this potential forward. Thank you to my team and to all the people involved for making this amazing experience possible!

Aurora Tuozzi – hacker for the Young ESA in-person team




Earth Observation experts mentoring during the event

Two extraordinary mentors  in Earth Observation participated in the hackathon as online mentors! 

Mentors play a key role in the competition. They are in contact with hackers online prior to the beginning of the event, to start answering some of their questions, but above all they support them during the hackathon in dedicated mentoring sessions. 

Many thanks to Aditi Sathe, System Engineer in post-launch support for Earth Observation missions at ESA; and Camille Decoust, Senior Satellite Operations System Engineer for Earth Observation missions at ESA; for dedicating their personal time as mentors for the Our Giant Leap Hackathon 2023.  

Online mentoring session with Camille Decoust at the Our Giant Leap Hackathon 2023 (credits: DGE PG)

I participated in the OGL Hackathon to share my passion for space and remote communities but also to learn from and get inspired by motivated young folks. Mission accomplished 🙂 Some great exchanges, good ideas and a message that hopefully will not be forgotten : we can’t help others until we sincerely and deeply understand their life and needs. This shall be done from a direct source of information.

Camille Decoust – Mentor for the OGL Hackathon 2023 and ESA EO expert

ESA space business professional supporting winners of the hackathon

And last but not least: another ESA expert also took part in this international adventure, by dedicating time to ECOHERS (winning team) to provide them with informal technical/business feedback after the hackathon. Thank you to Antonios Maillis, Satellite Applications engineer at ESA, for his time! 

Picture of team ECOHERS at the Our Giant Leap Hackathon 2023

Wishing them luck in the development of their space business, we hope the invaluable feedback from Antonios will propel them to new heights!







Future collaborations with the European Space Agency for D&I

ESA has partnered with the Space Generation Advisory for quite some years. The Agency regularly supports and contributes to SGAC flagship events, SGC and IAC, but also enables other opportunities to open up the space sector to young SGAC volunteers (ex.: invitation to participate in the ECSL Model UN COPUOS). 

On the topics of diversity equality and inclusion (DE&I), ESA continues to strive to create a fully inclusive working environment where people value diversity in teams, take others’ perspective into account and feel comfortable being themselves. These topics are now higher than ever on the Agency’s agenda, as they were identified earlier this year as key drivers for the ESA transformation strategy. 

For the SGC-IAC 2022, ESA in cooperation with SGAC proposed a Diversity scholarship with a very interesting essay topic underlining the contribution of space to a more diverse, inclusive and egalitarian society. 

The support brought by ESA to the Our Giant Leap Hackathon 2023 this year is completely in line with the Agency’s values.  Our Giants sincerely look forward to future collaborations between ESA and the Diversity and Gender Equality Project Group for inclusivity in space but also through space for society. 

Other quotes

Participating in the OGL Hackathon 2023 was a remarkable adventure, highlighting the boundless possibilities that space technology offers to improve the lives of those in remote communities. Grateful for the opportunity to contribute and connect with young minds who can truly be a driving force for positive change in our world!

Emma Buckinx – hacker for the Young ESA in-person team 

It was very rewarding and fulfilling learning about the struggles of women in remote communities and how space technology can make such a positive impact. 

Emilie Brannan – hacker for the Young ESA in-person team 

About the author

Maëlys BELIAZI is the Communication team lead for the Diversity and Gender Equality Project Group. 

Maelys is a telecommunications engineer with a specialization in GNSS (satellite navigation), now working at the European Space Agency on the Galileo 2nd Generation Project.

Do you have any questions on our activities within the Project Group? Reach out to us: [email protected].