Gearing Up for Hackathon of Ideas – Using Technovation in Digital Medium to Combat Gender Violence
November 25, 2022
Today, the development of digital technologies is significantly impacting the normal way of life. Digitization is fundamentally changing the way we live, how we establish friendships, how we acquire new learning and how we uncover solutions to the issues confronting us.
For example, today the World Wide Web can provide fair access to information, education and greater participation in public life, even in the most remote corners of the glove, thereby increasing the level of trust in government and ensuring equal access to public services.
At the same time, new technologies also bring new dangers – digital violence. Digital violence occurs when one person attempts to manipulate, intimidate, control and harm another person through gadgets, apps and social media.
Gender-based violence in the digital environment has a serious impact on the lives of women and girls, threatening their security, violating their personal boundaries, affecting their psychological health, self-esteem and reputation. On the one hand, this phenomenon reveals all the problems that are inherent in a patriarchal society: gender inequality and violence and discrimination against women and girls. On the other hand, it reflects new trends and attempts to reverse the progress made in protecting women's rights and promoting gender equality.
Coopting youth tech ideas to battle digital gender-based violence
Addressing the problem of digital violence as a form of gender discrimination was included in the set of key themes of the marathon of ideas called "IT vs Violence". The event was organized within the framework of the the Spotlight Initiative Regional Programme for Central Asia and Afghanistan. Young people from the countries of the region could offer their ideas on the theme of the marathon. In 48 hours, participants developed more than 50 solutions in the form of applications, web services, chat bots that help prevent gender-based violence, collect data about it and provide assistance to survivors of violence.
A total of 14 teams won the final, whose ideas turned out to be the most original, technically feasible and relevant. Three teams from Kazakhstan featured among the winners.
Three Kazakhstan teams shine
The Ctrl-Alt-Delete team from Kazakhstan took first place in the solution track for collecting and visualizing data on violence. The team members have repeatedly become winners of various world competitions in the field of IT technologies, for example, in the Technovation Challenge in San Francisco. The team proposed a web service that monitors open sources – chats, pages of schools and of schoolchildren on social networks – and it recognizes bullying and forms a database of online violence.
“We firmly believe that in order to solve a problem, one must clearly understand its scope. Our proposal is to create a web service that collects data from open sources for each school in each city or region. This will both provide an opportunity to choose a safer environment for learning and also give an impetus to the fight against bullying by providing data for decision-making,”says Aziza Ibragimova, leader of the Ctrl-Alt-Delete team.
The international team of girls from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, "Fempowered", was awarded under the theme, prevention of violence, in the nomination category, "Original idea".
The girls presented a proposal for the prevention of cyberviolence – SafeBuddy – to the jury which makes it possible to identify signs of online harassment, bullying in correspondence, and the built-in bot provides detailed information on recognizing cyberviolence. It then gives recommendations and advice on how to protect yourself and where to turn if violence did happen.
“SafeBuddy is a mobile application that, by design, has access to instant messengers. The programme algorithm is configured so that messages are checked for bullying. It can be certain words, expressions, even photographs. Messages from new and unfamiliar contacts are accorded special attention. The application is designed both recognize harassment and to provide information on what to do if such a situation occurs. If one does arise, you can block the contact, contact crisis centres or request the help of a psychologist. Also, the application will take the age of the person receiving the messages into account. If a teenager or a child, a recommendation will pop up to contact a parent or a close adult,” says Nurzhan Yestebesova, a Fempowered team member.
The application also contains information materials – short articles, quizzes, videos – on how to recognize and prevent cyber violence, thereby ensuring your safety on the network.
It has been proven that online violence is a continuation of violence in the physical world. In both cases, it is key that a person experiencing violence does not remain in psychological isolation. “When people have the opportunity to share their experiences, they understand that they are not alone,” says Insan Aytkozha, a team member of kOlmary, another winner of the idea marathon.
“When people have the opportunity to share their experiences, they understand that they are not alone,”says Insan Aytkozha, a team member of kOlmary, another winner of the idea marathon.
“Our application is a platform where victims can get the help and support they need. This can be professional help from a psychologist, and from various groups established by people who have gone through a similar situation. The main task of the application is to let the victims know that they are not alone in coping with their troubles, and to extend a helping hand to them.”
The kOlmary team from Kazakhstan took second place in the category that provides a product for finding and receiving help for victims of violence. The solution has a broad functionality, including a chat with a psychologist and other survivors of violence, podcasts, useful materials on the topic, and much more.
Involving young people in raising awareness of gender-based and digital violence contributes to building a more resilient society. It is very important to heed the voice of youth, take into account their points of view and their proposed decisions public policy level. Idea marathons are a great platform for brainstorming.
“Participation in hackathons is both an opportunity to improve your skills and meet like-minded people. Everyone who shares their experiencse and ideas to help other people, in fact, fulfils his civic duty to society,” said Maral Khudaibergenova, regional ambassador of Technovation Girls in Turkmenistan, speaker of the “Technologies against violence” marathon of ideas.
The Spotlight Initiative is a global initiative of the United Nations which has received generous support from the European Union. Its aim is to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
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