With technological advancements providing solutions to real-world problems, there’s an app for just about everything these days, including gender based violence. White Ribbon USA, a non-profit aimed at combating gender bias and domestic violence in the US, has announced a plan to launch a mobile app and web platform that provides help and support to victims of domestic abuse.
The mobile app and web platform is a component of White Ribbon USA’s Women Empowerment Campaign, a project inspired by Melinda Gates’ Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, which seeks to empower organizations to take action against gender inequality. Veronika Mudra, CEO and founder of White Ribbon USA, is partnering up with Ivelina Choeva, founder of the app called ForYou (ZaTeb), the first mobile app against domestic violence in Eastern Europe and ImpactFactors Taxes based tech company specialized on servicing nonprofits and social impactful projects.
The White Ribbon App and Web Platform will provide victims of gender based and domestic violence with useful information such as a list of agencies, charities, law services, emergency care services and resource centers to contact for help. Users can also locate shelters by zip code, record notes of abuse, and access a wealth of information such as testimonials, news articles and blog posts to educate and empower them to seek assistance. This includes how to identify signs of abuse, actionable steps to safely leave an abusive relationship, and options for childcare and safety.
According to Mudra, who was a victim of domestic violence herself, abused women tend to stay silent either out of fear or a lack of awareness about what steps to take. “We offer immediate self-help so you don’t need to Google a hundred thousand websites to understand things like: Where can I get a restraining order? Where can I find a shelter? Where can I find a lawyer?” she says. By providing women with an easily accessible self-help tool, she hopes it will empower victims to seek help and guide them along the way.
The app is also aimed at combating biased gender narratives that cause these issues in the first place. In order to diminish the violence committed against women, public perception of women needs to change. As White Ribbon is the world’s largest male initiative against domestic violence, it recognizes men’s role in changing these perceptions. “It’s important to educate men about gender violence and inequality, because they can bring awareness to their friends, to their families, to the workplace. This platform is also a good tool for men to educate other men in their communities about bias narratives,” explains Mudra.
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a surge in domestic violence rates, the need for technological solutions has never been direr. “We predict positive outcomes for the vulnerable women who likely are experiencing greater level of distress because of dire financial and emotional stresses, increasing rates of domestic abuse and violence, and discrimination resulting from COVID-19 related factors,” wrote White Ribbon USA on their website.
In addition to rooting out gender violence, the campaign is also aimed at advancing women participation and influence in the male-dominated tech industry. With only 26% of computing-related jobs held by women, of which majority are white, and 48% of women in STEM jobs reporting discrimination in the recruitment and hiring process, the gender divide in the tech industry remains a critical issue. In contrast, the team building the app is composed mainly of women of diverse ethnicities, including full Stack Web Developer Arwa Awan. “I’m happy to be in a field that helps empower women through technology,” she says. “It’s up to us, all of us, especially privileged women, to help make online spaces easily and safely available for women all over the world.”
Co-authored with Adriana Georgiades