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Women's Safety Challenge Community Champion Update #10

Photo of Karolle Rabarison
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Karolle Rabarison is our current volunteer Challenge Community Champion. You'll see her popping up across the Women's Safety Challenge with handy tips and words of encouragement – and posting community updates here like a true champion!



“The more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into a dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.” 
 
That’s Paul Friere in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which a friend suggested I read during a recent long-haul flight. The recommendation was timely. Friere’s words here both reaffirm and continue to inform current reflections on what I’ve learned from two years working and learning and sweating in India, and from four months creating and collaborating with a global community on OpenIDEO.
 
Embrace uncertainty – The OpenIDEO platform is home to such a diversity of backgrounds, expertise, and ideas. Through the Women's Safety Challenge alone, I had the opportunity to interact with local movers and pushers (e.g. Kranti), development professionals in geographies unfamiliar to me (e.g.  Ryan Sarafolean), eager students from my home country (e.g. the Design Tinkering crew), and so many more. Working alongside this community has been a great exercise in loosening up what we think we know, being open to even the wildest ideas, and learning to find comfort in the uncertainty and ambiguity that arises through the open innovation process. And look how far we’ve come!

Be restless – I’ve talked before about the importance of asking questions. When I became interested in social innovation, one of the first (and best) pieces of wisdom passed on to me was to keep asking why, until you can’t ask why anymore. In the Research phase, OpenIDEATORS did an amazing job interviewing and gathering insights from subject-matter experts, potential beneficiaries, and various social change enthusiasts to establish a foundation for the brainstorming in the Ideas phase. Then – in one of my favorite moments from this challenge – the OpenIDEO Team invested time formulating specific questions for each of the 52 ideas that move to the Refinement phase. After many weeks developing ideas together, it was great to get these fresh prompts that poked at our key assumptions and nudged us further to consider our ideas in the real-world context and incorporate new viewpoints. (ICYMI: Check out Cansu’s tips on prototyping.)

Which brings me to…

Get real – Static written proposals and implementation plans can only go so far. In contrast, the HCD process emphasizes prototyping early and adjusting along the way. I love this principle – jump into a learning loop that tests the idea in real life, gather feedback, refine, repeat. It’s something new to the traditional grant-making approach to development aid. And my involvement in this challenge finds me more and more convinced that traditional approach needs a dose of shaking up indeed.

As for my own project, Badal ja!, one blog post can’t do justice to how proud and thankful I am for the community engagement – on OpenIDEO as well as offline in Mumbai – growing around this one small idea. Million thanks are due to the likes of Amy Carst and Natasha Freidus for their enthusiasm for storytelling (and especially spotlighting success stories) and for support in tossing around ideas about mapping tools and voice-based technology. We have a few maps in the works and are in touch with local NGO Akshara Centre for feedback on how to make these resources the most useful and user-friendly. I was also inspired by Sonal Shah's work on gendered experiences of the city (thanks again for welcoming me to your workshop, Sonal!) and have grown to embrace the importance of enabling women to occupy public spaces to create safety and promote overall empowerment and status in the community. In fact, we at Badal ja! recently hosted our first campaign and event in Mumbai, focused on "Small Steps for Safety" and what happens when people, especially women, loiter.



We challenged our community to recognize how perceptions of safety in the city are as diverse as Mumbaikars themselves and started a conversation about the small steps that each of us can take to improve safety in our own neighborhoods. Then, we gathered friends, neighbors, and strangers for a nighttime walk to assert everyone’s right to occupy any public space any time. During the walk, we shared examples of individuals and organizations doing great work to make the city safer – for everyone, but especially women – and finally, challenged each person to define and commit to their own small steps.

Moving forward – I’m excited to see the impact created by the ideas shortlisted and funded by the Women’s Safety Challenge. I’m excited to see the Amplify Team iterate, adapt, and improve this collaborative HCD approach to aid in the next nine (nine!) design challenges. In the meantime, newly motivated, I will continue to explore the complexity of gender issues in India and beyond, and to take small steps to make my own tiny corner of the world just a bit more safe and empowering for women and girls. Say hello @ohkarolle.
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Community Champions , Women's Safety Challenge

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Photo of Alaine Newland

Thank you Karolle! It was a true pleasure to have you as part of the team. Thank you for your insights and contributions!

Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Good stuff all around. See you in the next challenge!

Photo of Meena Kadri

I loved how you inspired, informed and encouraged our collaborative efforts on this challenge. You were indeed a champion! Certainly hope to see you popping by future challenges alongside juggling all your stellar other work towards social impact.

Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Thanks for the words, Meena! I was only following the great community-building example of people like you. :)

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