SEATTLE, Washington — Technology to prevent gender violence is emerging in many forms including forensic science, and victim advocacy through mapping, connecting and informing. These strategies are designed to protect women and young girls, who are the victims of violence and sexual assault not confined to any economic sector, race or culture. Technology to prevent gender violence can have a significant impact on a global scale.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) requires that ”countries party to this convention take all measures to end violence”. This convention is a response to what is a widespread crisis requiring political resources and community action.
- Seven in 10 women globally experience physical and or sexual violence during their lifetime
- 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not a crime
- One in four women experience physical or sexual violence during pregnancy
- More than 60 million girls worldwide are child brides before they turn 18
One-third of women killed in the U.S. are murdered by an intimate partner; in Guatemala, two women are murdered every day. Violence against women and girls escalates in regions of ongoing conflict, as rape has historically been concurrent with the sacking of settlements and the taking of territory in war zones. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1,100 rapes are reported each month. Sexual violence is also widespread in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The U.N. campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women has declared the 25th day of every month to be ‘Orange Day’, a chance to spread awareness and take action. The color is a metaphor for optimism about a future free from violence against women and girls, and the program is centered around the development of new technological solutions to prevent gender violence.
Mapping tools use crowdsourcing technologies to pinpoint where violence is occurring both online and offline. Internet education provides women and girls with critical awareness tools regarding cyber safety. Just as technology can be a tool to protect and inform, the same tool can be misused by perpetrators. Notification apps have been developed to alert first responders or support groups if girls are in danger.
U.N. Women is researching a global mapping project in collaboration with Microsoft on the potential for mobile technologies to prevent and respond to gender violence. The project focuses on global mapping through access to and the use of cell phones in public spaces in Rio De Janeiro, New Delhi and Marrakech. The partnership also launched a new mobile app in Brazil, offering support services for women and girls who are survivors of violence.
Data collection of forensic evidence is now possible in conflict zones with a program called MediCapt, developed by Physicians for Human Rights. It is the first application used to collect forensic evidence from crimes in conflict zones and will ensure more women and girls have a chance of justice. Mapping features also reveal patterns and frequency of violence. Healthcare professionals, first responders and justice officials are using this application right now in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It is one of 90 programs funded by the U.N. Trust Fund to End Violence against Women in 74 countries, totaling $53.2 million dollars. Ten percent of grant recipients are working with technology to prevent gender violence.
To further support technology to prevent gender violence around the world, the digital gap must be narrowed or closed. Internet access is a major driver of economic development and social empowerment, but 4.2 billion people remain offline. The Digital Global Access Policy (GAP) Act seeks to deliver first-time access to mobile or broadband internet to at least 1.5 billion people in developing countries by 2020.
Further access to information and help, opportunities for justice, and consistent moral outrage will offer hope to women and girls all over the world who suffer at the hands of their families and communities. These technologies will not only help to prevent gender violence but may also encourage other innovators to dedicate themselves to the same end goal.
– Addison Grace Evans