At a time when technology is meeting more and more of our needs, now it’s the turn of personal security. Last Saturday, I attended the Hackathon “Mujer Segura” (“Secure Woman”) at the National Technological University in Mendoza, Argentina. I was joined by one of Belatrix’s team leaders who helped judge the participants and their ideas. The event gathered more than 200 professionals from different areas.
Gender-based violence is a social problem
The objective of the event was to think, plan, and create applications and games that could help provide aid to victims of gender-based violence, raise awareness, and attempt to educate people on the matter.
A global movement against gender-based abuse has been gaining momentum over the last few years. Its growth has been significantly stronger in Argentina where the initiative #Niunamenos (not a single woman less) has generated numerous protests and marches to raise awareness and petition the government to create and enforce laws to protect potential and actual victims.
The advent of tech solutions
We have seen several technological interventions that try to help fix this problem. This year, the MIT released several mobile application projects that try to cope with the menace of sexual assault. The most commented upon on social media is a sticker-like wearable sensor that can be placed inside clothing to detect real time sexual assault and alert the victim’s friends to seek help.
In Latin America, the atmosphere around violence has been coming to the boil. Thanks to increased media attention and exposure on social media, different sectors of the community are contributing with their bit to help. The initiative “Mujer segura” was conceived by Carlos Abihaggle, the former Argentine Ambassador to Chile. After coming up with the idea, he met with Belatrix, and then with other key institutions including the National Technological University, University of Aconcagua, University of Mendoza, and the Office of Women’s Affairs of the Supreme Court of Justice.
The hackathon “Mujer segura” gathered over 150 participants divided in two different categories: youngsters and adults. The youngsters were all students from a local school with a strong computer science program, and a very active social awareness strategy. They developed games and created videos aimed to educate other youngsters about gender based violence.
In the other category, multidisciplinary groups of adults developed applications and web pages to help victims find shelter in case of danger, as well as easier ways to report abuses.
The winners were chosen by a panel of judges that represented the organizers and included specialists from development areas. Silvana Blangetti, a project leader at Belatrix, was in charge of providing the technical feedback to the adult category.
During the event I walked by the different groups working on their projects, and the enthusiasm was almost palpable. Everyone seemed really energised by the opportunity to come up with a product that could genuinely help people. And that’s the ultimate objective of these kinds of initiatives: awake inside each member of society the desire to improve it, contribute to it, and combine their efforts to create a greater good.
What about your local community? How is it fighting against gender based violence? How is it using technology to help do this?