There is no doubt that violence against women (VAW) is a major challenge in Egypt, in all its shapes and forms. Most prevalent cases are sexual harassment, domestic violence, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), forced marriage and socio-economic discrimination. An extremely concerning fact regarding the reporting of such cases is that less than 5% of women seek help from the authorities.
How do we know all this? The United Nations Development Programme in Egypt (UNDP), in partnership with the National Council for Women (NCW) and Vodafone Foundation, provided a platform for young Egyptian women and men to voice their opinions. How was this done? By organizing the first “Violence Against Women Youth Innovation Camp” in Egypt!
UNDP Egypt is supporting the NCW to effectively address VAW by keeping their doors open and engaging in dialogue with citizens. This time, and for times to follow, we decided to use a participatory and inclusive approach by asking people to pitch their ideas for innovative solutions; namely, reporting on cases of violence against women.
For three days, a group of 35 young women and men, worked collaboratively on analyzing the root causes of underreporting, brainstormed solutions to encourage citizens to take a stand, and finally built low-cost prototypes to visualize their ideas.
“I am participating in the camp because violence against women is a collective social problem that involves both men and women, therefore, as a member of this society, I have to contribute to solving it,” said Ahmed El Se3eedy.
Storytelling was at the center of the methodology. An Empathy map was created to give individuals the opportunity and judgment-free space to share their personal experiences. The amount of openness and honesty was surprising – it was then easy to analyze the stories and determine what needed to be done: who are the users, what are their needs and what insights were discovered?
The subject matter proved to be more complex than anticipated, which explains the difficulty the state institutions experienced when attempting to address these problems for decades with few solutions prevailing thus far.
In only three days brilliant ideas were brought to light. Ms. Naglaa El Adly, Head of International Cooperation at the NCW exclaimed, “Your ideas are brilliant, you came up with solutions that we never even thought of, I am amazed!”
The top three solutions were:
- Te2dary “You Can” – An interactive system made up of an online media campaign; a panic button connected to the police, NCW and emergency contacts; a virtual/anonymous support system utilizing chat and voice; a database for rights, existing reporting mechanisms and legal procedures.
- Balaghny Shokran “Report, Thank you” – An Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) reporting system.
- Women Against Violence in Egypt (WAVE) – a comprehensive initiative including support units in public spaces, awareness campaigns connected to a hotline, in addition to messages on subsidized products, and a national day for ending VAW.
Nancy Ahmed, a member of team Te2dary, explained, “The results were great. By deeply analyzing the causes of the problem this led to a great sense of empowerment and determination among the participants to come up with truly innovative solutions to help solve the issue, I was glad to have been a part of this camp”.
This is the first in a series of innovation camps. Plans have already been put to motion for one on “Men and Boys Becoming Champions” and “Legal Frameworks to Combat VAW”, in addition to talks about a regional innovation camp on VAW.
The moral of the story is that we should embrace co-designing and not underestimate the power of youth to come up with creative development solutions– all you need is a space, a community and open minds.
To support the campaign, use the hashtag #EndVAWegy