In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8th, we hosted our 32nd PeaceTalk — Tech for Ending Violence Against Women at the HiVE studio where we partnered with Amnesty International. We had an amazing panel of empowered and inspiring females: Rebecca Chiao from Harassmap, Denise Williams with the First Nations Technology Council and Jessica Ladd from Sexual Health Innovations (SHI). These accomplished women discussed ideas about helping mistreated women through the medium of advancing technologies.
Rebecca Chiao, our first speaker of the night introduced Harassmap. Harassmap is an online platform created in 2010 that addresses the sexual assault and harassment conflict arising in Egypt. She further explains how many o these victims little or no aid. These women feel compelled to avoid public spaces where they could become exposed to sexual harassment. Harassmap acts as an anonymous channel for these victims to connect to people for support and aims to stop harassment by changing cultural norms by placing more pressure towards local authorities.
Next we had Denise Williams discuss her concern regarding the lack of access to technology many First Nations communities are faced with. Technology provides users with access to education, healthcare, opportunities to employment and much more, however these First Nations are not able to access the same information as conveniently. With the help of her team members, Denise aims to ensure that all 203 BC First Nation communities have access to technology resources and support.
Our final speaker, Jessica Ladd spoke about an online platform called Callisto that acts as an online sexual assault reporting system for colleges. She explains that victims feel reluctant to report the act because they worry that they lack information during the reporting process and victims are often uncertain of whether the act was serious enough. These worries lead to delayed reports of sexual attacks, and unfortunately less than 10% of survivors report their assaults. Callisto aims to address these issues by allowing survivors to report their assaults by offering a judgement free environment.
To end the night off, we received thought-provoking questions from the audience. Questions ranged from whether these organizations were predominately volunteer based or staff based and how they can help to what could the be cause of disconnect with colleges from accepting an online platform such as Callisto. Jessica responded saying fear is the issue. Universities fear that accepting help would mean that there is an actual problem. In addition, the news may affect donations made by alumni and affect the reputation of the school overall. Thus, Callisto is there to help students who face these issues and support them through this process.
A big thank you to all that attended and helped make this event a success! We hope you all feel more empowered to make a difference and help those in need.