Hacking Gender Equality

This year will be remembered as the year that our collective silence was broken on the rampant sexual abuse and harassment that continues to plague our workplaces and communities. I’m in awe of the incredible women that found the courage to speak up and report their experiences publicly. This has enabled us to have the type of discussions we’re having now and create space for movements like #metoo – which I hope will lead to positive change in workplace culture and society in general! Yet, I would still love to see more concrete solutions to tackle many of these endemic issues…

Over the weekend, Re:Coded, in partnership with UNDP and Microsoft, held a Social Innovation Hackathon in Istanbul with a focus on Gender Equality to see if we could create the space to do just that. There were lots of unique ideas but I was incredibly proud and heartened to see that the winning team was lead by Reem and Muath, two Syrian refugees from Raqqa (the home base of ISIS) and Hakan, who comes from a vulnerable area in Turkey – not areas often associated with their progressive outlook on providing support to women who have experienced sexual violence. They came up with an idea for an encrypted mobile application that provides women with access to free and safe psychological support in the wake of experiencing sexual violence. While I think this app could be useful worldwide, I see it as especially important in countries where women are unable to share their experiences with their own families or communities for fear of punishment and bringing shame upon their families “honor”.

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We obviously need to address the root of this issue and ensure sexual harassment and violence are not continually perpetrated, however, in cases where it does occur we also need to create the space for women to share their traumas with trained professionals and get the help they need. We can't wait to see this idea come to life over the next couple of months! If there's anyone out there that is interested in lending a hand, please feel free to reach out.

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