We celebrate International Women’s Day by introducing the women changing the conversation with tech and creativity.
Street Art Attack
Inspired by her own experiences, visual artist Tatyana Falalizadeh created the project Stop Telling Women to Smile. “It was my way of speaking back to my harassers, the guys who say things on the streets that are unwelcome, unwanted and make you feel uncomfortable.”
Instead of the oil paintings she was used to working with, she addressed the problem in its natural environment: the streets. “I believe that public art has a very distinct advantage. Everyone who walks by these pieces will have a reaction, they’ll consider it, they’ll think about it.”
Each poster contains a direct message. Falalizadeh begins by listening to real victims before photographing them and illustrating their portrait. By giving women the chance to tell their stories, the project is both an intimate process for the participants, and one that can provoke meaningful discussions on the streets.
The project began in New York and has travelled throughout the US and Mexico, with plans to expand to other cities. “I’d like individuals and groups to have access to the work so they can paste these pieces in their own communities.”
Back off, Brazil
“Mom, instead of a graduation trip, can you put the money towards my app?” said Catharina Doria, a 17-year-old student from São Paulo. Her app Sai Pra Lá, uses mobile technology to give women to a chance to report street harassment in real-time.
Sai Pra Lá, which means ‘back off’ in Portuguese, was also the result of a personal experience of being catcalled and followed by a much older man. With the help of some friends with technical skills and funding from her mom plus a crowdfunding campaign, the app has already reached more than 100,000 downloads with 40,000 incidents registered.
The goal for the future is to create versions in English and Spanish as well. “It’s a global problem,” she says. “We have to welcome other nationalities too”.
HarassMap use crowdsourced tech to tackle sexual harassment in Egypt. Their platform allows women to report incidents online and via SMS, plotting the information on an interactive online map. The main goal is to change perceptions and lower tolerance. “We want people start seeing sexual harassment as the crime it actually is,” they say.
HarassMap goes a few steps further. When a woman files a report, she receives an answer with information about legal procedures, psychological assistance and even self-defense classes.
Additionally, a team of volunteers analyzes the data on the map to identify trends and to extract knowledge and evidence used in community campaigns. The data is also used by the Safe Areas program, which is a series of partnerships with local shops, universities and taxi drivers to implement zero tolerance against sexual harassment.
“We use the reports on the map to show people the scale of the problem and to dispel myths about it,” says Noora Flink, head of communications, “like that ‘how women dress’ or ‘sexual frustration’ are reasons and excuses for harassment.”
“We have had some very successful years of piloting our different programs. Now we will focus on expanding and partnering with more universities and businesses”.