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Hack to the (safer) future!

In cities the world over, women live in daily fear of violence. But in these same cities innovation thrives, and residents have the power to make them safer for women and girls. Our idea is to hold city-based ‘hack days’ in Rio, Kathmandu, Phnom Penh and Dhaka, inviting communities, partners and technology experts to discuss the main threats to women and girls’ safety, and create practical solutions. The people attending the hack day will bring their experience of the city and knowledge of how citizens use technology, engage with media, and use support networks. This is not just about getting technical experts in - but about getting women and men together, to create people-powered solutions based on their experience of public spaces.

Photo of Agnes Hall
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Provide a short description of your idea

Our idea is a social enterprise. It tackles the problem of urban poor communities being disconnected from the technical experts that can help them develop the tools and technologies they need in order to make cities safe for women. It addresses the problem by directly connecting the women who experience the fear of violence daily with various experts who are committed to applying their expertise to developing the solutions. It fuses together the experience of women living in cities with the technical, communications and advocacy knowledge of the organisations and companies invited. The implementation process would be well supported within the context of the Safe Cities campaign that ActionAid and its partners are launching in 17 countries over the next year, with ongoing energy and resource dedicated to make cities safe for women and girls. ActionAid and it's partners have a lot of experience testing new, participatory ways of working, in order to enable our supporters and the people we work with.

Get a user's perspective on your idea.

Please see a user experience map here: http://act.ai/hackdayuserexp

Our primary target audience is women living in poverty in cities (specifically in Rio, Dhaka, Kathmandu and Phnom Penh). We would reach out particularly to young women, as key agents of change in communities.

Other target audiences include our partners, NGOs and activist groups interested in making cities safe for women. We would invite speakers from the women’s rights movement and people who have championed technological solutions for development (and women’s rights), as well as technology communities, companies and networks to join us and enable or develop ideas that are technology-enabled. We would ensure there were policy and campaigns experts attending that would provide knowledge of how to influence change.

This idea works because it directly connects the women who experience the fear of violence daily with various experts who are committed to applying their expertise to developing the solutions. It fuses together the experience of women living in cities with the technical, communications and advocacy knowledge of the organisations and companies invited. The implementation process would be well supported within the context of the Safe Cities campaign that ActionAid and its partners are launching in 17 countries over the next year, with ongoing energy and resource dedicated to make cities safe for women and girls. ActionAid and it's partners have a lot of experience testing new, participatory ways of working, in order to enable our supporters and the people we work with.

Show us what implementation might look like.

We would identify one or maybe two solutions to implement from each hack day, along with the hack day attendees. We would allocate a set amount of budget per city to support the implementation of these solutions or ideas. Working out the required budget would be part of each hack day (one in Rio, Dhaka, Phnom Penh and Kathmandu). The technology companies and communications organisations that attended the hack day would have a more long-term involvement with the Hack Days than just attendance on the day; they would be asked to support the build and development of a chosen solution, contributing their expertise and resource. We would also look at the other key requirements for implementation. For example, if it required government lobbying of some kind, then we would support the women to campaign and advocate for that solution to have government support.

The implementation plan will vary in different cities. For example, in Rio, the Hack Day team would also engage with the government on the hack days, inviting local/state government and public services managers, and they will look for a partnership with the government to commit with the resulting product.

The hack days are part of the Safe Cities campaign that ActionAid is launching in 17 countries over the next year, and we would work with our partnering NGOs, activist networks and supporters to sustain communication and engagement with the women that attended the hack days in order to successfully implement solutions. We would create a core project team from each hack day, allowing women to choose their level of ongoing involvement in the product. The hack days would be a core milestone for the campaign, placing supporters and also technology as an enabler (ICT4D) at the heart of the campaign.

We are fully resourced and able to carry through the hack days from crowdsourcing and designing solutions with attendees, to implementation. We have tested various technology-enabled mobilisations and projects within ActionAid, which we have learnings from. We co-create and develop all of our international campaigns across multiple country offices with constant brainstorming and creative workshopping to produce the best solutions to the problems thrown up by campaigning across so many different contexts. We run participatory e-learning course online e.g. webinars, as well as discussion and Campaign Project Team groups on Facebook, including a group that focuses on using technology to support activism. We have set up and tested mobilising people using SMS in over 7 countries, and run actions such as #taxpaysfor (http://taxpaysfor.tumblr/ shows all the images posted to Twitter and Instagram)) to engage activists and lobby governments. We are setting up IVR system in Cambodia, working with local technology groups.

Our youth network, Activista, is constantly working in a participatory manner to build digital skills within the network, and support ‘step down’ trainings in communities (where the Activistas share their skills and teach others). We have tested ideas like voxpops here: http://www.actionaid.org/iwd2014 and blogger training programmes like the blogger swarm: http://www.actionaid.org/activista/swarm as well as supporting women living in Kenya to document through video the effects of a toxic dumpsite in the middle of their community, using the footage as evidence to lobby decision-makers and also look at collective solutions http://www.actionaid.org/2013/01/dumping-colorado

The successes from these ways of working are that our supporters and Activists cocreate our campaign actions with us. These campaigns are up and running and reflect their diverse and creative inputs. Building the capacity of our activists means that they are well places to create and run their own initiatives such as lobbying the African finance minister’s meeting via Twitter, SMS and email actions: http://www.actionaid.org/activista/2014/03/4-actions-stop-tax-leaking-out-africa The challenges are that sometimes people's situations are simply different and it's necessary to fork the solutions down different routes to ensure best fit for multiple communities. This is why we believe the hack days are an excellent proposal, as they take different contexts into account, crowdsourcing the most relevant solutions from women, at city level.
Holding a ‘ hack day’ is an effective, communal and enjoyable way to solve problems. They are typically popular with technical geeks that get together and build applications, tools and websites, but the word ‘hack’ is also used to mean more broadly ‘find a solution’ or innovate.
 
We want to apply the term hack day in a brand new way, as we believe hack days have huge potential to create practical solutions for women and girls living and working in cities. We would invite women, men, leaders, organisations and activists, bringing them together with technology providers and communication organisations, to identify the key challenges and potential solutions to women and girls’ safety in a city.  
 
The beauty of this concept is that it would happen at city levels, involving local citizens.  We want to put women, especially those who experience the violence or the fear of violence on a daily basis, at the front of how we create Safe Cities for women and girls; to give them a platform and direct access to technology experts in order to discuss issues and conceptualise solutions, inspiring and supporting one another in a shared vision.
 
Co-creating solutions with different community members, organisations and technology providers is the ideal way to ensure that we make the most of a city’s connections, facilities, expertise and experience. A ‘one size fits all’ international phone application or mechanism doesn’t take into account the diversity of issues and access to technology in different cities. City-based hack days would bring people people’s skills and experiences in an incredibly powerful and effective way.  We can connect the hack days at an international level, ensuring that learning is shared across countries - using social media and web-based platforms, but also via SMS and community meetings, working with partners, communities and organisations in those countries.
 
We would allocate a set amount of budget per city to support the implementation of the suggested solutions or ideas that come out of these days. An example idea could be to build a kiosk at a major train station for women to complain, and receive a number to check the response from the government (which could be accessed through mobile, email or by visiting a webpage). Or it could be building an SMS or IVR (interactive voice response) based reporting system to record information on certain bus routes. We would collect the names and contact details of the people who attend, in order to build a movement and provide support and training to lobby for project funding or implementation if needed, as well as build a long term, sustainable campaign for Safe Cities for women and girls. Younger participants may benefit from joining our youth network Activista, and all participants could benefit from the training resources provided by our Global Platforms as well as our online capacity building materials.

Explain your idea in one sentence.

Our idea is to hold four ‘hack days’, one in Rio, Kathmandu, Phnom Penh and Dhaka respectively, bringing together communities, civil society organisations, technology companies and communications organisations to discuss how the use of mobile and web-based technologies can alleviate the main threats to women and girls’ safety in urban public spaces, and create and implement practical, technology enabled solutions.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

The need to link up urban poor communities with technology companies and communications organisations that are able and keen to develop tools and technologies that support women’s rights work, in order to create the most innovative, relevant and practical solutions to make cities safe for women and girls.

This concept will empower people to make their city’s public spaces safe for women and girls, connecting them with the budget and technical resource to turn their experiences and collective vision into real-world results. It will also give technical experts, companies and organisations the chance to work on innovative humanitarian projects.

Each city is different - a blanket solution for stopping violence against women in public spaces worldwide is not practical. People should have ownership over their cities and the spaces they live in, and this project will enable them to identify the major problems and create the solutions with their technical experts, together.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

The people attending the hack days will be given the facilities and space to spend a day together, with activists and technology providers in their city, to share experiences, learn from each other and build constructive ideas for resolving issues in their city. The result will benefit the broader community of people living in the city, as the solutions and products that result from the hack days will be about creating safe cities for women and girls.

We would invite the women who live in poverty in the cities to contribute their ideas and knowledge, shaping any projects with their insights. We would reach out particularly to young women, as key agents of change in communities. We would invite speakers from the women’s rights movement and people who have championed technological solutions for development (and women’s rights), as well as technology communities, companies and networks to join us and enable or develop ideas that are technology-enabled. We would ensure there were policy and campaigns experts attending that would provide knowledge of how to influence change, for example taking any crowdsourced data in order to produce scorecards for city authorities/governing bodies/influencers to consider - this would be part of any project developed.

We would measure success by: The number of women that attend, the number of young women that attend, the number of external organisations that attend, participant feedback throughout and after the event, whether practical solutions were conceptualised, whether partners and supporting organisations/companies or authorities picked up on the ideas and support implementation, how successfully the events are picked up and amplified online (e.g. retweets, shares, blog articles, etc.), the number of women that sign up to getting involved in future campaigning activities and events,

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

ActionAid is launching its Safe Cities for Women and Girls campaign in 17 countries over the next year, with our partners in national coalitions. We are therefore best placed to implement this idea, together with our partners and supporters.

Where should this idea be implemented?

We would implement hack days in in Rio, Kathmandu, Phnom Penh and Dhaka, as our staff and coalition partners that live and work in those cities have elected themselves as keen to run this project. We could then roll out hack days with other countries that wish to join in with the Safe Cities campaign.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

We would run the hack day in Rio first of all as a pilot. ActionAid Brazil and partners are keen to develop a product that will have two focuses. It will open a channel of communication between government and civil society, and work as an accountability tool, to look into the responses and actions taken by duty bearers toward women and girls in cities, and evaluate them.

We would test: whether a good number of women, young women and other organisations attended, and whether our outreach methods worked (for engaging people in communities); whether the participants found it worthwhile, inspiring and constructive; whether there were any key elements ‘missing’ from the plan, such as facilitation, experts, outreach, or support; whether feasible, practical solutions resulted from the day’s discussions and brainstorms and concept development sessions.
 
We would then revise our plans as necessary in order to maximise the success of the hack days in other countries.

What might a day in the life of a community member interacting with your idea look like?

Women and girls that live in Rio, Kathmandu, Phnom Penh and Dhaka, where we would hold our ‘hack days’, would benefit strongly from this project, especially as the focus is problem solving women’s safety in urban environments.

For example, women that live in Rio, from the poorer communities that ActionAid and our partners work with, would lead on identifying which problems to focus on, and evaluating the solutions. They would connect with other women, technology and communications companies and networks, as well as informal groups (and CSOs) working on complementary projects.

These days would bring together stakeholders with different experiences and skills, and empower the women and girls involved to inform and design solutions with experts that can create them. This will inspire confidence in the power to connect and create change, engendering and strengthening communities’ confidence in their own power to solve big issues, a space usually reserved for official bodies.

Women and girls will therefore directly benefit from both the process and solutions that are implemented from these hack days. The solutions will be designed by them, for them, to make their cities safer places to live and work in.

Please see user experience map here: http://act.ai/hackdayuserexp
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Team (2)

Agnes's profile
Mona's profile
Mona Sherpa

Role added on team:

"Mona works for ActionAid Nepal and would be a key team member for engaging women in the hack day, running a hack day, and implementing the solutions that come out of that day, in Nepal."

Attachments (1)

Hack days - user experience map.pptx

This maps out how the user will experience a hack day in their city.

41 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Abina Adhikari
Team

well appreciated.......

Photo of Teng Zhang
Team

This is a very innovative idea. I like the idea hack to the safer future. it can help the community to improve safety.

Photo of Agnes Hall
Team

Thank you Teng Zhang, I'm glad you like it. It didn't get shortlisted unfortunately but I appreciate your enthusiasm for it! :)

Photo of Amy Carst
Team

Hello, Agnes. Our ideas are very similar. Your comment "It addresses the problem by directly connecting the women who experience the fear of violence daily with various experts who are committed to applying their expertise to developing the solutions" closely embodies the concept of our Voice Project. Women in developing countries need the tools to make their voices heard. Congratulations on a wonderful idea. I would be happy to collaborate if you are interested.

Photo of Agnes Hall
Team

Thanks Amy :) sadly, this idea didn't get shortlisted.

Photo of Sumathi Pathmanaban
Team

Fantastic idea!

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great stuff. We're keen to know if you've trialled a lightweight version of such hack days yet (or some kind of pairing of women / girls from low income communities with tech experts + partners already? If so – what did you learn? What was successful and what was challenging? We're also wondering about follow up plans... given that many hack days generate exciting solutions that then evaporate after the events are held. Do you have thoughts on pursuit of impact on the back of the hack days? We're excited to learn more (you can update your post with more details by hitting the Update Entry button on the right of your post)

Photo of Agnes Hall
Team

Hi Meena, thank you for your questions. I will update the 'more information section' with some additional detail.

Photo of Agnes Hall
Team

I have added in information on this now Meena.

Photo of Agnes Hall
Team

Also please see the user experience map attached :) as well as more detail in the 'Get a user's perspective on your idea'.

Photo of Stuti Regmi
Team

innovative idea :)

Photo of Stuti Regmi
Team

innovative idea :)

Photo of Kate Seewald
Team

This looks great, well done to you for really thinking outside the box on this one! I agree that innovation is key to making real and sustainable change for women (and men) living in cities. In fact, cities are places where innovation and ideas thrive best of all. I think this is a great opportunity to reach out to young people, especially young women, and enable them to develop their ideas on how to improve their communities in relation to women's safety. It's a way to harness their optimism, creativity and forward-thinking, while strengthening the technical skills and building the capacity and confidence of participants. We *all* have the right to enjoy the city, and it's time to make that happen, from the bottom-up! Good job again!

Photo of Abhilash Babu
Team

Brilliant idea. Solutions must always be local, and tuned to the needs of that locality. A hack day can get us simple, yet effective solutions from the best minds. Like using the local cop station as a point where a tech innovation could be tried. My vote for this!

Photo of Kalpana Thapa
Team

Appreciated,

Photo of Dee Karki
Team

very innovative

Photo of Richa Shakya
Team

LIKES .....

Photo of Sushmita Shakya
Team

Great Idea :-) ! Let's " Shatter the Silence " .

Photo of Hima Bista
Team

In solidarity!!!!A need of today and indeed an innovative idea!!!!!

Photo of Niyam Maharjan
Team

Innovative idea.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Very cool idea Agnes!
I like the fact that you are designing with, rather than for the community.
It seems that you are also well-connected which is great.
I am curious to know if you have thought of how to move from the ideas to prototyping some of them, and even implementing them as I think that might be the biggest hurdle.

Looking forward to seeing this idea evolve.

On another note, I checked the link for your global youth network and thought that you might find this idea interesting:
http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/ideas/their-problem-is-ours-too

Photo of Agnes Hall
Team

Thanks Anne-Laure Fayard! We would identify one or maybe two solutions to implement from each hack day, along with the hack day attendees. We would allocate a set amount of budget per city to support the implementation of these solutions or ideas. Working out the required budget would be part of each hack day (one in Rio, Dhaka, Phnom Penh and Kathmandu). The technology companies and communications organisations that attended the hack day would have a more long-term involvement with the Hack Days than just attendance on the day; they would be asked to support the build and development of a chosen solution, contributing their expertise and resource. We would also look at the other key requirements for implementation. For example, if it required government lobbying of some kind, then we would support the women to campaign and advocate for that solution to have government support.

It will be different in different cities. For example, in Rio, the Hack Day team would also engage with the government on the hack days, inviting local/state government and public services managers, and they will look for a partnership with the government to commit with the resulting product.

the hack days are part of the Safe Cities campaign that ActionAid is launching in 17 countries over the next year, and we would work with our partnering NGOs, activist networks and supporters to sustain communication and engagement with the women that attended the hack days in order to successfully implement solutions. We would create a core project team from each hack day, allowing women to choose their level of ongoing involvement in the product. The hack days would be a core milestone for the campaign, placing supporters and also technology as an enabler (ICT4D) at the heart of the campaign.

I had a look at the link you posted :) I will comment on this now!

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Thanks Agnes for the extra information. It seems that you have a great set of connections and have put a lot of thinking in moving these ideas to the next steps.
Looking forward to your comments on Melchior's idea. I think there might be way for him to connect with Activista.

Photo of Luke Hannan
Team

Great idea, leveraging the community to uncover & discover their key issues represents acgrass root approach. Well done & best of luck.

Photo of Rajkumar Trikhatri
Team

I support the idea and commit to contribute in translating into action

Photo of Agnes Hall
Team

Thanks Rajkumar! :)

Photo of Malati Maskey
Team

Well appreciated work !!!

Photo of Sangya Shrestha
Team

(y)

Photo of Kimtheng Sen
Team

This is great idea!

Photo of Cecile Shrestha
Team

Such a brilliant idea!

Photo of Basana Sapkota
Team

Aprreciated

Photo of Mona Sherpa
Team

For the low income urban areas to be safe for women and girls, there should be certain things that should be looked into and i found those components in this proposal like

- engaging with young women and girl from these areas, so that someone else doesn't come with a magic wand for the solution but they themselves take a charge, leadership and build or develop what they require to deal with their situation.

- existence of urban area has lot to do with technology and it is booming everyday. this proposal has that component too, where young women and girls with the support of technology will handle the situation and come with solution to bring change in their situation

- the work done by the young women and girls should be acknowledged by the policy makers and initiatives and advocacy should also be addressed and committed by the policy makers and policy managers. This component is also there in the proposal. this also helps in building agency of these young women and girls to campaign and engage in the issue.

- Technologies are mostly seen and understood as something for business taking advantage of people's need, but this proposal is trying to make even those technologies sensitive towards social agendas like sexual harassment in public spaces. thus fusion of social agendas and issues and its solution through the use of technology is phenomenal part of this proposal. I really liked it and i am sure young population will love it and be attracted to the initiative.

- This proposal has also marked 'hack day' and hacking here for me is more about claiming spaces which is occupied by patriarchal stereotyped thinking, practices, cultures and even legal systems. Hacking a day and claiming it to show the world that there are another chuck of population, who are colonized by these stereotyped sexist thinking, perspective, but their human rights should also be recognised and addressed.

Seeing all these components in this proposal, i feel it should be tried and implemented to bring larger change.

Photo of Sotheavy Leng
Team

It is wonderful

Photo of Sivuthin Chum
Team

Wonderful!

Photo of Savann Oeurm
Team

Wonderful Aggy! :)

Photo of Belinda Calaguas
Team

Great idea! Echoing the other comments below of getting women, supported by technology and communications people from the cities to develop their own solutions to the problem of violence against women. The interaction between women, poor women, technology and communications people would be very interesting and hopefully create great ideas for solutions. It would be great to consider whether an idea like this could happen in more countries than just the four listed? Perhaps other individuals or organisations posting ideas could come together and do this also?

Photo of Shaurabh Sharma
Team

Great!! In solidarity..

Photo of Vandana Snyder
Team

Great idea Agnes! I think this is an excellent idea and we need innovative, holistic solutions to improve our cities for women, girls and communities at large. I love that women and girls will be designing the solutions, brilliant!

Photo of Mona Sherpa
Team

definitely.. :)

Photo of Mona Sherpa
Team

amazing one.... entire world is patriarchal and is in control of such patriarchal stereotyped mindset thus increasing harassment and violence in public spaces. it is becoming culture. this should be stopped completely. thus hacking a day to build young women's own ways to deal with the situation and come with alternatives should be encouraged and prioritized. Thus i applaud for 'Hack Day' concept and also encourage everyone to do so.

Photo of Tom Allen
Team

This is a great idea! Solutions identified and then tackled by those affected, on collaboration with some sparky problem solvers. Really hope this gets enough votes to go through!! Good job!